(Slayden, MS) Some students at H. W. Byers High School in Slayden, Miss., said their show of patriotism got them called to the office.
The school planned to use part of its Spirit Week activities as an opportunity to remember the 9/11 attacks.
But a handful of students apparently misunderstood the dress code policy for Patriotic Day.
Kelton Stewart and Clay Earnest are students at the school.
Kelton, a sophomore, said they thought it would be okay on Patriotic Day to show their love of country, “We’re remembering people from September 11th in the Twin Towers.”
But Kelton said he was called out of an assembly Wednesday morning because of his t-shirt, “The vice-principal told me that it was unsatisfactory and that the shirt was not acceptable,” he said.
Kelton was told, because his shirt is predominately red and blue, it didn’t fit the school’s dress code for Patriotic Day.
That was something he didn’t quite understand, “If you’re going to wear something to do with your country and the colors are red, white and blue, then way are you being told you can’t wear the red, white and blue when you come to school.”
Patriotic Day is part of Spirit Week activities at the school.
This year it fell on the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S.
Instead of uniforms, students were told an American flag could be worn on a predominately white shirt.
Wednesday, five students were told to have their parents bring them appropriate attire.
Principal Dante Thornton said no students were suspended or sent home.
Clay Earnest said it wasn’t his shirt’s color that got him sent to the office, “The problem is, on the back of my shirt, the fonting is a little difficult to read. But it says ‘U.S. Pride’ on the back,” he said.
Clay said students complained, saying it looked too much like gang tattoos or graffiti.
Clay said he didn’t like being judged by what he was wearing, “They just jumped straight to the conclusion that you’re in a gang. that you’re trying to be part of gang or something like that when you know that you’re against those kinds of things,” he said.
Jerry Moore, superintendent of Marshall County Schools, said he didn’t think the clothing decision had anything to do with gang colors.
Moore said Spirit Week activities are a time when students are given a break from wearing uniforms.
He said after learning of parents’ and students’ complaints Wednesday, he’ll now re-think whether to give students any casual days at all in the future.