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Parents: Teen took a stand for military

Parents say their teenage daughter recently took a stand for her beliefs at school and was served with a two-day suspension as a result of her actions. When she later took to social media and posted about what had happened she received an outpouring of support.

North County High School student Gracie Schwent’s parents, Jeff and Jill Campbell, said there had been known issues with a group of students at the high school for the past few days and one of them even went as far as to post their hatred on social media.

“The comment was made that this certain person doesn’t believe in God and doesn’t believe in the military and they can all die and everyone can die as far as this person is concerned,” explained Jeff.

Gracie would later hear the group of students talk about it in the school cafeteria. Jeff said Gracie sat down, but then stood back up and walked over to a get a napkin near where this group of kids happened to be standing.

“Some of that got repeated and my daughter more or less told them she (didn’t) appreciate what they were saying,” said Jeff. “She (didn’t) appreciate that they threw the troops in the middle of this.”

Jeff said Gracie’s brother, sister-in-law and nieces all serve, or have served in the Air Force and she has an issue with anyone who disrespects any member of the military, past or present.

“The girl more or less said to Gracie, ‘I don’t care what you believe in, all the soldiers can go to hell and die,’” said Jeff. “My daughter looked at her and said, ‘Well then you can get the f*** out of my school.’ So when that happened it wasn’t a big ordeal. There were no teachers around when the girls were talking.”

Jeff said those girls went straight to the principal’s office and told on Gracie.

“They told him exactly what was said and the principal brought Gracie into the office and asked if this was what happened,” explained Jeff. “Gracie said ‘yes,’ and he asked if she used the F word and Gracie said ‘yes’. That was enough to get Gracie suspended.”

Jeff said the discussion he later had with the principal was that Gracie walked up to that person and said what she said because of her brother and grandpa being in the military.

“We are a big military family here, and when that girl said how all soldiers should die she may as well have said that about Gracie’s brother,” said Jeff. “Gracie made a statement to her that she doesn’t appreciate what was said because that is her family.”

“I’m glad Gracie did what she did,” added Jeff. “She wasn’t having anyone disrespect our troops, her brother or grandpa who fought for this country. She took a stand for my family and that is what I care about the most. I was proud of my daughter for sticking up for her brother and our country.”

“Camp Hope gave her a special T-shirt in appreciation (for) what she has done,” said Jill. “There have been a lot of veterans private messaging her and myself thanking her for what she did.”

Jill added that 99 percent of people have been behind her and it wouldn’t have mattered if it were her best friend who said it, she wouldn’t have handled it any differently.

North County Superintendent Dr. Yancy Poorman said it was not that Gracie took a stand, but the language she used in doing so that violated school policy. 

While not at liberty to discuss the situation in great detail, Poorman said it was his understanding that a female student who took offense to another student expressing their right to freedom of speech/expression by refusing to stand or recite the Pledge Of Allegiance was suspended for using profanity in her rebuttal.

“It was not her position on the issue, as she, too, has a freedom to respectfully express her opinion,” stated Poorman. “Her suspension was based on the profanity.”

Poorman said from what he has been shown he believes her suspension was misrepresented as being based on voicing her support for the military.

“I can assure you, (the North County School District) will not, has not, and would not suspend a student for voicing support of our military or our veterans,” stressed Poorman. “Our own high school principal, Mr. Lance Sprenkel, is a veteran.

“But we do have policies against profanity and disrespectful behavior,” he added.

A handful of community members came out and stood on Raider Road near the rear entrance of the school Tuesday morning to show their support for Gracie.

“It was not her position on the issue, as she, too, has a freedom to respectfully express her opinion. Her suspension was based on the profanity.” – Superintendent Dr. Yancy Poorman

A handful of community members brave the cold early Tuesday morning to show support to Gracie Schwent.

A handful of community members brave the cold early Tuesday morning to show support to Gracie Schwent.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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