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Rogers Student Suspension Raises Issue of Social Media Consequences

Updated: 02/19/2014 1:10 PM
Created: 02/17/2014 10:03 PM KSTP.com
By: Brandi Powell

The story of a high school senior who was suspended because of a tweet has people talking.

Rogers High School senior Reid Sagehorn is accused of sending a tweet confirming allegations that he did something inappropriate with a teacher at the school. His friends say it was only a joke, and now thousands of people have signed an online petition to get him back in class.

On Tuesday night many students and parents showed up at the district as the school board held a meeting on unrelated business and waited to talk.

Sagehorn could face felony charges. Police say another student admitted Tuesday morning to helping create a gossip website that's linked to the mess. That website, called "Rogers Confession," gathered gossip and questions and posted, some of it anonymously, to Twitter.

"Free Reid" is what thousands of students, parents and community members are saying about the Rogers High School student, who is also captain of the basketball team. They want Reid Sagehorn's suspension to be lifted.

"I think there's a problem with what his punishment is," Weston Adair, a senior and friend of Sagehorn, told KSTP. "I don't think he deserves a punishment like that because people put a lot of stuff on the Internet and they aren't punished for what they're saying."

Sagehorn and the teacher both told police that nothing actually happened. Officials believe the teacher is an innocent bystander in all of this. Authorities say they believe that, but this could still have serious consequences for both of them.

"It's like crying or yelling 'fire' in a movie theater or saying 'I've got a bomb on a plane,'" Chief of Rogers Police Department Jeff Beahen said. "Although this may seem harmless you're affecting the career of a teacher, possibly permanently. This teacher is devastated. She has not been offered an apology, she's been bullied and berated by students, and I know that this has been difficult for her to even continue her teaching career."

This has also been tough on the Sagehorn family. KSTP stopped by their St. Michael home. Reid's father didn't want to talk on camera but did say he wants to thank everyone who has supported his son, and he's hoping for a quick resolution.

Authorities are still trying to pinpoint the people responsible for posting the initial, sexually explicit, tweet that Sagehorn replied to on Twitter.

The website "Rogers Confession" has been taken down. 

When the board meeting concluded, parents and students had an opportunity to talk with school leaders. Laura Selken has a son who attends Elk River High School, and she believes Sagehorn's punishment is severe and that the community should move forward.

"We need to look at this and get past it," she said. "People need to take responsibility for what they've done, ask for forgiveness and we need to move on."

Rogers High School Senior Reid Sagehorn is accused of sending a Tweet, confirming allegations, that he did something inappropriate with a teacher at the school.
Photo: Jacki V. Seniors
A screenshot of Sagehorn's Twitter page.
Photo: Twitter

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