School district, Gov. Brownback respond to student's tweet about Kansas governor

FAIRWAY, Kan. - The Shawnee Mission School District released a statement Monday morning regarding Emma Sullivan's tweet about Gov. Sam Brownback.

Sullivan, 18, attended a class field trip to hear the governor speak in Topeka, on Monday, Nov. 23.  She told NBC Action News when we broke the story that she didn't like what she heard.

"I don't agree with a majority of the things that he is trying to pass," Sullivan said.

She tweeted, "just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot."

"District officials have reviewed recent events surrounding the reported tweet by Shawnee Mission East High School student Emma Sullivan.  The district acknowledges a student's right to freedom of speech and expression is constitutionally protected.

"The district has not censored Miss Sullivan nor infringed upon her freedom of speech.  She is not required to write a letter of apology to the Governor.  Whether and to whom any apologies are issued will be left to the individuals involved.

"The issue has resulted in many teachable moments concerning the use of social media.  The district does not intend to take any further action on this matter."

Sullivan told NBC Action News that she was not going to apologize even if the district required her to do so.

"I believe that I have a right to state my opinion," said Sullivan.

Sullivan started receiving advice about how to handle the situation after her story went viral.  She started with 65 Twitter followers, but Sullivan is now broadcasting to about 8,500 Twitter followers.

Brownback's office also released a statement about the tweet found below.

"My staff over-reacted to this tweet, and for that I apologize. Freedom of speech is among our most treasured freedoms.

"I enjoyed speaking to the more than 100 students who participated in the Youth in Government Program at the Kansas Capitol. They are our future.

"I also want to thank the thousands of Kansas educators who remind us daily of our liberties, as well as the values of civility and decorum.

"Again, I apologize for our over-reaction."

Sullivan said it would have been nice to personally hear from Brownback.

"I'm disappointed that he didn't say anything directly to me or my parents or my family that he sent out this vague we overacted statement, but I am glad that they acknowledged the situation," said Sullivan.

She isn't sorry for posting the tweet.

"I'm in high school. Don't people remember what they wrote and said when they were in high school?" said Sullivan.

The high schooler said she is glad the situation is over.  She wants to concentrate on getting ready for college.

Tuesday, NBC Action News obtained the emails exchanged between Brownback's office, the Shawnee Mission School District and the Shawnee Mission East principal.

The following is an excerpt from an email Krawitz sent to Niomi Burget of the governor's office:

"The governor should know we did not force any letter of apology. There were no threats if she did not – they were not even discussed. We did not take her phone, imposed any sanctions, suspend her from school, removed her from any activity - nothing – simply write a letter of apology. I am not a big fan of the governor, but I respect the person and the office. He may be used to this kind of negative mail (which is disgusting), however I am not. The hate mail I have received is a disgrace. I am not sure what will become of this issue – unfortunately, this will probably get ugly."

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