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Student suspended after protesting backpack-ban by bringing books in a microwave

Spalding Grammar School student Jacob Ford in the UK protested a ban on backpacks by taking supplies to school in a microwave. He was suspended. The school enforced a bag ban for safety reasons, it said.
Spalding Grammar School student Jacob Ford in the UK protested a ban on backpacks by taking supplies to school in a microwave. He was suspended. The school enforced a bag ban for safety reasons, it said. Twitter/screenshot

A 17-year-old student at Spalding Grammar School in the U.K. protested his school’s “ridiculous” ban on bags by taking his books and supplies to class in a microwave, The Sun reported.

It wasn’t just a microwave, either. Jacob Ford also carried his supplies in a large wicker basket, part of a lawnmower and a saucepan, according to Spalding Today.

The “silent protest” got him a two-day suspension.

The backpack ban was issued because large bags, carried by older students, were hitting younger students in the halls, the Sun reported. Students could take the bags to school but were told to carry books by hand between classes, according to the paper.

“The reasons for them changing is for one reason and one reason only which has been hammered into all of our brains over the course of the several assemblies that we’ve had. Health and safety. Or more specifically, the year sevens and one member of staff,” Ford wrote in a 3,000-word argument to the school, Metro UK reported.

“These people have been struck in the face or knocked backwards by our bags swinging around in the corridor ... Once again, I do not doubt this ever happening. But is the best solution really to outright ban backpacks? Surely a compromise can be made,” he wrote, according to the paper.

But Ford said school officials punished him after saying his detailed letter had been compromised by him taking items to school in odd containers, Spalding Today reported.

On Thursday, I was called into the headmaster’s office to discuss my document and was told that I had undermined my position by writing a serious report, only to follow it up by taking ridiculous items to school,” he said, according to the paper. “I was told that I had a choice to make, either to have a serious discussion about the issue or to continue my rebellious streak and force the head to take me out of circulation.”

Ford’s mother supports his protest and said she believed in his right to free speech.

‘I think Jacob’s protest has been very peaceful and I believe he should have his say, she said, according to Metro UK. “At the end of the day, I believe in freedom of speech and so I’m very proud of him for standing up for something he believes in. Microwave or no microwave”

The headmaster said officials acted appropriately, and blasted the teen’s mom for enabling his behavior.

“We have a student who has behaved in an increasingly inappropriate way, actions the likes of which I have never witnessed, and who has been sanctioned entirely in line with the school’s policies,” headmaster Stephen Wilkinson said, according to Spalding Today. “What disappoints me most is the fact that, rather than working with us, the parent concerned has encouraged and is now seeking to glorify her son’s behavior.”

His microwave protest turned heads on social media, with many praising him for taking on a creative protest. Others thought he would have been better off studying.

Dozens of U.S. schools moved to ban backpacks after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February of 2018, citing the possibility that students could smuggle weapons in the bags. Some instituted a rule that backpacks must be transparent, leading students to protest the rule, which some saw as a way of avoiding the issue of easily-attainable firearms.

Tina Nichols, part owner of Nichols Store in Rock Hill, said the outdoor store is selling body armor inserts that fit into childrens' backpacks to protect the kids from gunfire. The store has advertised the inserts on its website and social media

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