In New York state, students can be suspended for up to an entire school year

BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — Steven Martinez’s life was turned upside down by an ill-conceived joke. He was a sophomore at Long Island’s Brentwood High School, a few days before Thanksgiving in 2019, when he made a post on Snapchat late one night about hiding an AK-47 at Area 51 in Nevada.

The police arrived around 2 a.m. looking for him. Martinez spent the morning at the station being questioned, he recalled. He was then handcuffed and taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

Doctors determined he wasn’t a threat. The police didn’t press charges.

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