Pupils punished after protesting

Five Columbia Middle School pupils were disciplined this week, some with suspensions, after administrators said they disrupted classes by protesting the removal of a classmate.

Columbia Middle Principal Donna Anderson said the situation began after she discovered a Richmond County pupil had been attending the school. She told him he would have to return to that school system after the semester ended.

To protest his removal from Columbia Middle, 18 pupils huddled in groups Monday morning in the cafeteria wearing T-shirts with messages urging that the pupil be allowed to stay, Dr. Anderson said.

When asked, most of the pupils changed their shirts. However, Dr. Anderson said some were "belligerent and rude" to teachers and administrators.

On Tuesday, some of the students wore T-shirts declaring their right to free speech.

"But they were related to this previous incident and were inappropriate," Dr. Anderson said.

She said some pupils also disrupted classes by passing out a petition and writing messages on their skin in support of the pupil. The "disruptive" behavior carried over into Wednesday.

The five most disruptive pupils received either in-school or out-of-school suspension, Dr. Anderson said Friday. Most received one day of suspension, but none more than two, she said.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.