Students Suspended for Comments on Photo Showing Principal Restraining Classmate

The photo of a California high school principal with a student in a choke hold-like restraint is going viral, but that’s not the only news surrounding it.

According to KTVU-TV, Pittsburg High School Principal Todd Whitmire said he suspended 12 students — two for fighting Friday and 10 for sharing a photo of the incident on social media with questionable comments.

ashley johnson restraind by principal todd whitmire
Ashley Johnson was restrained by Principal Todd Whitmire during a fight. The two students involved in the fight were suspended as were 10 students who spread the photo with racist and derogatory comments. (Image source: KTVU video screenshot)

In the photo, Whitmire holds 15-year-old Ashley Johnson around the neck. According to Whitmire, the female student was in a fight with a male student. He told KTVU the photo “doesn’t show what happened.”

Johnson, wearing a neck brace Tuesday, told the local news station she thinks the principal was too forceful in his restraint of her.

“I wasn’t fighting back. I was lying on the ground,” the student said, although it is unclear if she plans to make a formal complaint.

As for the other students who were suspended for sharing the photo with comments that Whitmire said were racist and derogatory, some of them think the punishment violates their right to free speech.

Watch KTVU’s report over the suspensions that were handed down over the viral photo: