Spencer High School and the district's central administrative office have been overtaken by e-mails and telephone calls since Friday afternoon, when news broke that Kevin Francois, 17, was handed a 10-day suspension.
The Spencer High School junior was told to stop talking with his mother, Sgt. 1st Class Monique Bates, who left in January for a one-year tour and serves with the 203rd Forward Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. Francois was conversing with her on his cell phone during his lunch break last Wednesday.
He refused to hang up from the call, prompting a teacher to take the phone away from him and causing it, in turn, to hang up in midconversation.
According to an article in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, school officials say the teen's suspension was "based on his reaction when he was asked to give up the cell phone and told about the school's cell phone policy." One assistant principal termed him "defiant and disorderly."
The student's mother called back a few minutes later, scolding her son about hanging up and telling him to answer the phone when she calls.
Where this story takes an ironic twist is that Francois is a student at Spencer High School in Columbus, Ga., not Spencer, Iowa. Many people from around the nation have misdirected their responses to the situation to school officials in the northwest Iowa district.
The myriad of e-mails began pouring into the Northwest Iowa school district a week ago, when the story was announced on CNN.
Their timbre has oftentimes been emotional, verging on furious and admonishing administrators for their wrongly-perceived actions.
A number of nasty messages have also been left via telephone calls.
"It's really unfortunate that people think that high school in Georgia was so unthinking and rude to that young man, and they are equally unthinking and rude to us, because of the things that they're saying. Because some of them are very vindictive," said Spencer High School Principal Mike Healy.
"I've had some saying that I should be put in jail. And, there are a lot of swear words and things like that," he added, skimming over one particular e-mail sent to him and Jade Beehler, the building's assistant principal, from a Chad B. Smith.
It stated, "You, sir, are a jerk for suspending a student from talking to his mother. The same mother that is fighting terrorist(s), for your sorry ass to act like some Nazi principal. They should fire you and send you to play principal in Iraq. No, really, there should be a law against jerks like you and they should put you in jail for what you did. Your school is now the laughing stock of the USA."
Beehler's reply, which he indicated has been sent to many of the misdirected e-mail senders, simply stated, "You have sent your e-mail to the wrong school. We are Spencer High School in Spencer, Iowa. The student suspended attends Spencer High School in Columbus, GA."