Father of D-B student upset over son's suspension in wake of school shooting rumors

Rick Wagner • Nov 27, 2019 at 8:23 AM

KINGSPORT — Kingsport school system officials have suspended “multiple” students in the aftermath of a Dobyns-Bennett High School lockdown Nov. 20 amid false social media reports of a shooting in the school last week.

Superintendent Jeff Moorhouse and Assistant Superintendent of Administration Andy True on Tuesday said they could not say exactly how many were suspended or what the exact punishments were.

However, a parent of one of the suspended students said Tuesday night that school officials gave out-of-school suspensions to at least two students.

“The investigation is ongoing,” True said Tuesday afternoon of parallel probes by Kingsport City Schools and the Kingsport Police Department. Asked if the suspensions were in-school, out-of-school, or both, True again responded there were “multiple suspensions.” Chief Student Services Officer Jim Nash said he knew of no police charges against any D-B student as of Tuesday night.

A Johnson City student was charged last week with making threats on Snapchat against a high school and middle school there.

Elizabethton High School, Sullivan County high schools, Bristol, Tenn.-Va., high schools and Cherokee High School also have had recent social media threats and unrest.

True said federal and Tennessee privacy laws prohibit school system officials from identifying students in disciplinary matters or confirming their names, but Paul Stafford, father of D-B freshman Wesley Paul Stafford, said he wants his son’s name made public along with an explanation he said proves his son is innocent and actually a victim of sorts. The father said the youth, who turns 15 in early December, has been suspended until Dec. 5.


“Use my son’s name. I’d like people to know my son did nothing wrong,” Stafford said. “They made my son Wesley out to be an active shooter.”

Stafford said his son was among 25 or 30 D-B students on the social media app Snapchat last week, and it was his son who was shown in a photo wearing a mask in a hallway at D-B and was shown in a video dancing with the caption indicating that is what he did after he shot and killed someone. Both photos were shared widely on social media.

His father said the mask was a motorcycle mask designed to keep in body heat and that his son wore it inside the school a few weeks ago. Stafford’s son also posted on Snapchat a photo of three of his father’s guns. Several students also shared that photo on social media last week.

“He didn’t do anything wrong other than express his freedom of speech on Snapchat,” Stafford said.

Although upset about the handling of the whole fake reports issue last week, Stafford said the school system has done a good job trying to protect his son from bullying.

“I really don’t think the school did anything to help these kids,” Stafford said of his son and others suspended. He said a D-B official told him his son likely would be transferred to Cora Cox Academy, an alternative school, until mid-January and then returned to D-B.