Bryan, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) — School officials in Texas are coming under fire for the suspension of a student who says he was simply supporting a special needs student being bullied.
Eighteen-year-old Rudder High School student Christian Tumax told KBTX-TV that he turned around at lunchtime to find his friend involved in an altercation with other students. He said his longtime friend was being harassed and he intervened.
“I turned around and saw he was being harassed,” said Tumax. “I told the guys to be quiet and leave him alone,” but after an exchange of words Tumax was asked to speak with school administrators and was suspended the same day.
Tumax says it was misleading surveillance footage that caused the suspension.
“They had to base it off what they saw in the cameras,” said Tumax. “They saw me go forward, and that’s the reason I got suspended.” Tumax said that footage made it appear that he was the aggressor although dozens of students in the cafeteria testified to the contrary.
Tumax took to social media to express his dismay at the Bryan, Tex. school’s decision, but the school administrators remained tight-lipped on the issue. A “#FreeTumax” wave of social media activity followed the decision.
“I appreciate the messages today, I do read them. Please remember student discipline issued by a campus is a confidential matter,” tweeted Bryan ISD Superintendent Dr. Thomas Wallis. In a statement, the school reiterated that the issue is a private matter:
“Individual student discipline is tied to confidential student records. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding any one event, by law the district cannot comment. These privacy boundaries are put in place to protect students and their confidential information.”
Tumax told KBTX that he’s not upset with the suspension decision, and would prefer to get back to school and push the issue to the past. But Tumax said his message remains.
“My message is, go out and help somebody,” said Tumax. “If you see it, don’t hesitate, don’t be scared. We’re all human, we all need help, and we all have demons that we’re fighting with.”