Soldier suspended from school after defending military in public

A Virginia soldier was suspended from school after he stood up in the middle of his cafeteria to defend his fellow troops.

A senior at Broadway High School, Matthew Clark is a member of the Army Nat’l Guard – and became upset apparently when another student started saying derogatory things about a fellow battle buddy.

Private Matthew Clark and his sister Rahfen Clark. Photo Credit: Facebook

Another student caught the whole thing on camera, last Friday and now Matthew’s  words are going viral in this Virginia community.

“Nothing like that should ever be said about the military and our troops that are fighting for our freedoms,” he said. Matthew was responding to what the other student had said earlier — that  “troops that risk their lives every day are a disgrace to the military, and that they shouldn’t be in the military.”

Witnesses say after the heated exchange was over, the other student crushed a milk carton and walked away. That student was not suspended.

According to WHSV, the official reason the school gave for the suspension was that Matthew  “created a major disturbance in the cafeteria provoking students’ anger and creating a potentially unsafe environment .”

The School Superintendent released a statement saying that when matters of safety arise, “prompt intervention I taken.”

Matthew’s father Keith – an Army veteran – went to the Rockingham County School Board to complain and said his son was the one who was bullied but was punished. He also says the principal violated his son’s privacy when she spoke to another student about his punishment .

Matthew’s sister posted something about the incident on her Facebook page and has received a huge response from the community.  Her post read in part:  “Mathew was suspended on the account of using the cafeteria as his podium to defend the military. I do not think it’s right what happened, especially since the other student who threatened and cussed at Mathew in front of the principal did not get into any trouble. Mathew actually just came home from Army basic training this summer.”

Keith Clark says the school’s reasoning was to take the military out of the equation and treat it as someone who was standing up and voicing their opinion in a public forum. But he disagrees.

“It’s very much a military issue, the individual made derogatory statements towards the military, my son who is a private in the military defended the military,” said Clark.

Matthew calls the whole thing a learning experience: “To know when you stand up for what you believe in and what’s right, you get punished for it.”

Keith Clark said he couldn’t be more proud of his son.  And apparently an overwhelming amount  of local news viewers agree with his actions.  About 88% said they did not agree with the suspension. Matthew will be allowed to return to school on Tuesday.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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