Mesa, Ariz. (CBS LAS VEGAS) – Two Arizona high school students were forced to hold hands in front of their classmates in order to avoid suspension for fighting.

Westwood High School, located in Mesa, Ariz., is drawing criticism for the punishment that some see as more than just a humiliating alternative to time away from school. The students at Westwood High in Mesa were apparently given the option to hold hands instead of being suspended by first-year principal Tim Richards.

Pictures of the high school boys holding hands as punishment and covering their heads spread all over Facebook.

One of the students is 14-year-old Charles Crockett, who admitted to ditching classes at the Mesa school Thursday because he said everyone was still teasing him about it. The fight apparently began in their P.E. class.

“I told him to hit me and he hit me and we all started fighting,” Charles told CBS affiliate KPHO.

The freshman said he and a sophomore named Julio were sent to Principal Tim Richard’s office, where he gave the boys a clear choice.

“The principal told us options and so we picked holding hands instead of getting suspended,” Crockett said.

The two locked palms for about an hour in the middle of campus during lunch while the entire student body witnessed their humiliation.

“They was making fun of me and everything and I just wanted to yell at them but I couldn’t. I just put my head down,” Crockett said.

The choise to hold hands was painful, he told KPHO

But the school district did not support the Principal Richards’ decision. Mesa Public Schools released a statement which reads in part:

“The district does not condone the choice of in-school discipline given these students, regardless of their acceptance or willingness to participate. District leadership will address this matter with the school principal, and review district protocol regarding student discipline with all administrators.”

CBS 5 News found a sign in a front yard near the high school which reads, “Westwood neighborhood supports Principal Richard.”

CBS 5 News asked Crockett what he learned from the whole incident. “Don’t fight in school,” he said.


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