Jordan Rouse, a senior at LFO, posted a video of himself “rapping” a song that included lyrics implying he was going to “take an AK-47 into Ringgold High and blow them to heaven.”
Rouse claims his video was “just a joke” in response to a previous derogatory video posted by a Ringgold student.
After Rouse was suspended, protesting students formed a rally Thursday night, Jan. 18, to “free Rouse” and cir-culated a petition that collected more than 200 signatures. Dozens of Facebook comments spoke highly of Rouse’s character and deny he was capable of any violence. (Poll at end of this article: Should Jordan Rouse have been suspended?)
According to public schools communications specialist Marissa Brower, the suspension was not for the video, but for the actions of Rouse after being confronted about the video.
“A parent informed the administrators about the video and had concerns about the issue of safety in attending the Ringgold basketball game,” said Brower. “”So the student was brought in by the LFO administration to discuss the matter. He was informed that the video could be taken seriously by some people and was asked to take the video down. He was also told he could not attend the Ringgold basketball game. He did not take the video down immediately and he chose to go to the basketball game, which resulted in further action taken by the admini-stration.”
Upon hearing of the non-compliance to the stated terms, school officials gave Rouse and a parent the option to attend a “disciplinary tribunal,” which is similar to a court hearing, or be sent to Gateway, an alternative facility. Rouse waived his right to a hearing, choosing Gateway.
Brower said his placement will be re-evaluated and he could be allowed to return to school after nine weeks and could graduate with his class as scheduled. Rouse has pulled the video and posted an “apology” rap video since the incident.
Rouse’s peers maintain he is “harmless” and a “class clown” and are in disagreement with the board’s decision. Several LFO seniors shared the same opinion, saying Rouse is just one of many who post videos like these.
“He’s not that kind of person at all,” said LFO senior Kristen Hawk. “He’s cool. I think they over-reacted. There’s a lot of music out there that is a lot worse than what he said. I think they’re making a big deal out of it because it was a school. Li’l Wayne (a well-known rapper) doesn’t do the stuff he says he’s gonna do, so why would Jordan?”
Brandon Frady and Jessa Meeks, also LFO seniors, said Rouse was just responding to a video and from what they had heard no action had been taken against the other student.
“I thought it was stupid,” said Frady. “Jordan Rouse isn’t really going to shoot anybody. He was just making a point. You talk about us, he’s gonna say something back. He’s got a lot of school spirit. He loves his school. He’s always dressed up for the pep rallies. You can’t miss him.”
Asked if the rally or petition held any weight to overturn the decision, Brower said officials were firm on the outcome and his actions were considered to be “insubordinate,” according to the school handbook.
“Even if it’s just a mistake,” said Brower, “there have to be consequences. When a student is given the opportu-nity to rectify their actions and they choose not to, there are repercussions. It’s our job as administrators to main-tain order in the learning environment and make sure everyone is protected at any school venue.”