Fargo North Principal says yearbook photo violates school policy, federal law

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Fargo, N.D. (Valley News Live): UPDATE:
The Principal of Fargo North High School is defending his actions banning a photo of a student from the school yearbook because, he says, it violates school policy and state and federal law. The student’s father shared the photo with us, it shows his son holding a gun over his shoulder with the American flag in the background. But school officials maintain it’s just not going to be printed.

"So this is the state of freedom in our nation today! Fargo North High School had rejected this picture for Josh's yearbook,” reads a lengthy Facebook post from Charlie Renville.

He is upset the school won’t let his son use the picture. Renville goes on saying “enough is enough, he needs to be fired!”

"Well, first of all, the picture indicates, I think, it's a semiautomatic assault rifle, something that's not allowed with our school policy,” explained Fargo North Principal Andy Dahlen.

Fargo North Principal Andy Dahlen made the decision to not allow the picture. He said it violates state and federal laws outlawing weapons within a thousand feet of a school.

"And then we have a policy on student publications and freedom of expression, which also indicates that we can prohibit things being published in school media, meaning yearbooks,” said Dahlen.

Number four on the list of prohibited items: material that violates federal or state law or promotes violence. Principal Dahlen said the picture violates their student dress policy, too. So Reporter Bradford Arick asked don’t you have to be on school property though to violate school rules?

"I guess we don't think so. I mean our thing is that it's with regards to our policy, it's prevented from being in our school and so therefore we believe we can prevent it from being in our yearbook,” said Dahlen.

Principal Dahlen likened it to a picture of someone smoking a cigarette. He said they would not publish something like that either.

There is an appeals process the Renville family can go through to overturn the Principal’s decision. District policy said the appeal goes to the Assistant Superintendent who has 30 days to make a ruling.

Charlie Renville shared a photograph of his son, Josh, holding a weapon and standing in front of the American flag. Renville says it’s being unfairly banned from the school yearbook because the principal does not agree with his family’s values.

Renville’s post says the school is banning the picture “because in their words it promotes violence and breaks federal and state law.” Renville says he contacted the principal of Fargo North, Andy Dahlen, who responded that people cannot legally bring firearms onto school property.

The post continues, saying Dahlen “doesn’t like rifles, he doesn’t believe in or support the Second Amendment.” At the bottom of the post, Renville called for the firing of Principal Dahlen.

Valley News Live talked with Principal Dahlen and he says firearms, such as the one pictured, are not allowed on school property, per state and federal law. Dahlen also cites policies in the student handbook that, he says, the picture violates.

We have reached out to Charlie Renville seeking comment, and have not heard back yet. Stay with Valley News Live for updates on this developing story.