Principal's hand-holding punishment causes controversy

Some students at the Mesa, Ariz., high school are unhappy with the media coverage of the principal's punishment.

A high school principal in Mesa, Ariz., is catching some flak online and from school district board members for giving two boys caught fighting a choice between being suspended or spending part of the day holding hands in full view of their classmates.

Students are supportive of the punishment, however. About 200 Westwood High School students participated in a “hand-holding event” Monday in the high school’s courtyard in support of principal Tim Richard and the punishment he administered last week, The Arizona Republic reported.

Mesa Public Schools officials have said the punishment violates district policy, the paper reported. The school board's president, Steven Peterson, who has a son at Westwood, told the paper on Monday some students were unhappy with media coverage of what happened at their school.

Some “are protesting the national media coverage of the incident,” he told the Republic. “They don’t agree with some of the things that have been said.”

Still, district officials say hand-holding as a punishment is not acceptable.

An image of the students, whose names are being withheld by the school district, was posted on Facebook by another student, generating a discussion about whether the punishment was acceptable, the paper reported. Several voiced favorable opinions.