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A North Dakota school district could decide as early as Friday on whether a photo of a gun-toting student that has attracted national attention will be allowed in the yearbook.
Charlie Renville posted a photo of his son, Josh Renville — clad in an American flag shirt, with his "favorite rifle" on his shoulder — on Facebook Tuesday, expressing frustration in the caption that Fargo North High School Principal Andy Dahlen had refused to allow it in the yearbook. The photo has been shared more than 1,600 times.
Charlie Renville wrote that he felt the picture was "no different then (sic) the pictures in the school library of soldiers during anyone of our nations (sic) wars," but said Dahlen had claimed the picture would not be allowed in the yearbook because "it's the law."
"What item is illegal in this picture? I see a kid that loves his nation, loves free speech and loves the second ... Amendment. The rifle is a rifle he built and it is his favorite rifle," Renville wrote, calling for Dahlen to be fired.
Renville posted an update Friday, saying that the photo was under review by the district's superintendent, Dr. Bob Grosz.
Renville said he was told by Principal Dahlen that "his office was receiving phone calls that support his position of banning Josh's picture."
"If he wants to run a poll....let's give him a poll," Renville said, encouraging his supporters to call the principal and share their opinion.
Dahlen told NBC News Friday that he's been fielding calls all day. "About 20 were not supporting (me) — five were still supporting," Dahlen said. "Yesterday, it was just the opposite."
Dahlen said he and Grosz had a meeting with Renville on Thursday to let him know that the picture was under review for admission into the yearbook.
Grosz, who will make the ultimate call, is "doing some research this morning of our own practices and policies," Dahlen said.
"When you’re looking whether it’s appropriate or not ... I had a gut instinct that it was not" because weapons aren't allowed on school property, Dahlen said. He added that in past years, yearbooks may have featured photos of students hunting, but "we live in a different time now."
Dahlen, who has been the principal of Fargo North for more than two decades, said he's dealt with his share of controversy and knew that Renville's photo would cause a stir "partly because of the family that was submitting it, and partly because it's a polarizing topic."
"Everybody has an opinion," Dahlen said.