On 14 June 2016, the unreliable Facebook page “American News” (a companion to a web site of the same name) published an article reporting that a uniformed veteran was “kicked out” of his daughters school because other students might find his attire “offensive”:
The Facebook post linked to an article published on 13 September 2014, with a clickbait title: “You’ll Never Believe Why This Veteran Was Kicked Out Of His Daughter’s School.” It maintained that a security guard told him that his uniform was offensive:
The things our children are being taught today are far different than what most of us are used to. And while some education has changed for the better, perhaps the most controversial topic schools are approaching is how they are teaching children what is “politically correct.”
Recently, it came to light that a high school in Michigan was taking things to an extreme. When Lieutenant Colonel Sherwood Baker, a 24-year-old military veteran was taking his daughter to school in uniform, he was stopped by one of the school’s security personnel.
“Before he was allowed in, the security guard stopped him and said sorry you’re not allowed in the school,” Rachel Ferhadson, the Lieutenant’s wife told a local radio station. “Security told him men and women in uniform weren’t allowed because it may offend another student.”
American News made no reference to the fact that the story was nearly two years old at the time of its June 2016 publication, leading many to believe that the incident took place recently. A September 2014 Army Times article reported that Lt. Col. Baker was indeed denied entry, but by his own account it was due to the fact that special needs students might find the presence of a uniformed soldier distressing:
An Army lieutenant colonel was prevented from entering his daughter’s Detroit-area high school by a security guard who said those in military uniform weren’t permitted inside.
The incident, which occurred Tuesday at Rochester Adams High School when Lt. Col. Sherwood Baker visited the school to help his daughter transfer to a different math class, triggered online outrage and a rapid response from the school district’s superintendent, a former Marine officer.
“I learned at The Basic School that I’m responsible for everything my people do and don’t do, and I’m responsible for this and I’ll correct it,” said Robert Shafer, superintendent for Rochester Community Schools. “It’s not the kind of behavior that we’d endorse as a school district. It certainly isn’t a policy, and it’s regrettable and we’re going to fix it.”
Baker, whose command did not respond to interview requests, told WJR-AM’s Frank Beckmann Show that four security personnel met him at the door, and “I wasn’t allowed access to the building because I was in uniform.”
Baker told Beckmann that the security person said the denial was based on the possibility that “some special ed students in the building, they could go crazy if they saw me in uniform.”
Shafer said he received word on the incident from the high school about the same time the story hit the airwaves.
“I have been on deployment, I do have two campaign ribbons, and I understand the sacrifices that go along with that,” Shafer said. “I completely understand the heightened sensitivity to this.”
The item wasn’t the first outdated or misleading story shared by American News. Prior false or misleading items shared by that web site included claims that Texans were being forced to pay slavery reparations, Canada banned Beyonce after her Super Bowl 2016 performance, President Obama prohibited a Navy Admiral from distributing Bibles to fellow servicemen, FEMA opened a concentration camp in Arizona, and President Obama declared Islam the official religion of America.
This particular claim was a variation on “shunned servicemen” urban legends, which frequently involve exaggerated or fabricated claims of unkindnesses directed at soldiers and veterans due to purported anti-military sentiment in the United States.