An 18-year-old was banned from attending senior prom following complaints from students about gun-related social media posts.
Kolton Hala attended Eagle River High School in Anchorage, Alaska, up until last year, when he suffered third-degree burns to his face and upper body after trying to start a fire at a family gathering. Because of medication he was placed on following the accident, Hala had to drop out and pursue his GED, which he recently received. However, he was still looking to attend the school prom with his childhood friend, who applied for a guest pass on Hala’s behalf.
Yet before the dance, which is being held this Saturday, Hala told the Anchorage Daily News that he received a call from the school’s resource officer, who told the teen that he wouldn’t be able to go because of complaints that he was a potential threat to the prom.
Hala believes that currently enrolled students considered him a threat after he posted a photo of a semiautomatic rifle on his Twitter account, following it up with a tweet about the dance.
Hala wrote, “2nd amendment part 2. YeeYee,” on Twitter, where he goes by “The Burning Patriot.” The words were accompanied with a photo of a Hi-Point model 4595, a .45 ACP semiautomatic rifle. Just 10 hours later, he posted a type of warning about his upcoming presence at the prom.
I'll be at ERHS's prom. Try not to get offended, okay?
— The Burning Patriot (@Inconformist907) March 7, 2018
“It’s a gun that I like, that’s all it is,” he told the paper, while also clarifying that he doesn’t own it. “It wasn’t directed toward anybody. I was just sharing what I like.” As for the second tweet about the dance warning fellow attendees “not to get offended,” Hala said it was in reference to the American flag tuxedo that he had already planned to wear. “Some people don’t like the American flag,” he said.
Anchorage School District deputy superintendent Mark Stock told the paper that although the issue has now become centered around the former student’s First and Second Amendment rights, no student has a right to a guest pass. Instead, it’s something that’s issued with permission, which leads to the denial of a number of students each year.
Upon receiving calls from parents who told administrators that they wouldn’t allow their children to attend the prom if Hala were present, the principal made a decision in favor of those currently enrolled at Eagle River. “The main priority of the principal is to keep the dance drama-free and fun,” Stock said. “It’s a junior/senior prom for the current students.” And amid fallout surrounding the latest school shooting in Parkland, Fla., and a current review of Eagle River’s safety procedures, this decision was deemed best for the school.
Hala attended the Anchorage school board meeting on Monday following the decision to bar him. In hindsight, Stock agreed with the former student that there should have been a larger discussion involving Hala to fully inform him of their decision. However, he believes that the situation was handled properly as a whole.
As for Hala, he tells Yahoo Lifestyle that he doesn’t plan to take any further action. “A few students are very supportive of the story,” he says. “This is a fight for the media. I’m just trying to bring light to a bad situation.”
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