Principal on paid leave after tweeting gun photo to school shooting survivor

PLATTE CITY, Mo. – A principal at an elementary school in Platte City is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into a tweet he recently posted, according to WDAF.

On Tuesday, Dr. Chad Searcey, principal at Compass Elementary School, posted a tweet in response to a video encouraging Congress to fund research on gun violence. The video was from David Hogg, a Parkland, Florida school shooting survivor turned gun control activist.

“Gun violence is the second leading cause of death for the young people in the United States, yet basically gets no research funding from the federal government at all whatsoever,” Hogg said in the video. “We have a chance to fund it currently in this Congress with this Senate and give $50 million to the CDC and NIH.”

Searcey replied to the tweet with a picture of him and his sons shooting and holding guns, with a caption that read “#Merica.”

He later deleted the tweet and posted an apology to Hogg’s post, but Hogg had already retweeted the picture with the following message:

“Cool guns, you know what’s more cool?
Mom's and dads getting to see their kids graduate high school alive.
Kids not having to step over bloodstained sidewalks on their way to school.
Parents not coming home to find their child with a self inflicted gun shot wound.”

A spokeswoman for the Platte County R-3 School District told WDAF the district learned of Searcey’s tweet on Wednesday and immediately placed him on paid administrative leave.

“Posts from employee personal social media accounts do not reflect the views or opinions of the Platte County R-3 School District,” part of the statement read. “We understand why the public response has been strong with regard to student safety in our nation’s schools. We intend to address the situation immediately.”

Parents of students who attend Compass Elementary had mixed reactions to Searcey’s post.

“I think everyone makes mistakes,” Rachel Casaos told WDAF. “Some things are unfortunate, but he’s an amazing principal who’s very compassionate and kind. I think he should be forgiven.”

"I mean, he has the right to have guns and go shoot them with his family. But to post something like that on a serious subject like that is very insensitive,” Melanie Lillard said. “I don’t know if he should come back or not.”

Searcey deleted his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon. His bio on the Platte County R-3 School District’s website shows he has been with the district for 14 years.

Here is the full statement from the Platte County R-3 School District:

"On June 11, 2019, a school district employee posted a tweet in response to a comment encouraging Congress to fund research on gun violence. The post was made from the employee’s personal Twitter account. Posts from employee personal social media accounts do not reflect the views or opinions of the Platte County R-3 School District.

"The District learned of the tweet today and immediately placed the employee on paid, administrative leave while we investigate the situation. We understand why the public response has been strong with regard to student safety in our nation’s schools. We intend to address the situation immediately and in a manner consistent with our Board of Education policies, as well as our goal of ensuring a safe and caring environment for our students, staff, and community."

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