Parents of students who attend an Arizona high school were outraged when their kids said they were punished for wearing “Make America Great Again” shirts and hats during spirit week. School administrators had a different version of events, though.
Several students told local news station Fox 10 Phoenix that they were asked to change out of their MAGA clothes when they showed up to school for “Party in the USA” day during spirit week at Perry High School in Gilbert, Ariz. The students said they refused.
“As we were taking pictures, [a] police officer approached us and [said], ‘We are asking you to leave the campus right now,'” freshman Logan James told Fox 10 Phoenix.
Jennifer Farris, whose child attends the school, took to Facebook to say that the students were suspended for 10 days for wearing MAGA hats and shirts and bringing banners to school.
However, Perry High School principal Dan Serrano said in an email to parents that there was a lot of “misinformation circulating on social media and media.”
“The administration addressed an incident that occurred at lunch this past Friday, when students carrying political signage caused a disruption and created safety concern,” Serrano wrote in a letter that was posted to Twitter. “The students were asked to put away the signage and they complied. However, after school ended for the day, the students unveiled the signage again in a manner that again caused concern for student safety.”
According to Serrano, the school resource officer asked the students in question to leave campus after the second “disruption,” and they refused. He said they also refused to provide him with their names and school identification.
“In summary, our administration has not and will not discipline a student for lawfully exercising their free speech rights,” Serrano wrote. “Students may lawfully be held accountable for complying with the District’s lawful policies, administrative regulations and expectations for student conduct set forth in the Student Handbook.”
PUMANATION please read below pic.twitter.com/W1ReKNxnf2
— PERRY HIGH SCHOOL (@PerryPumas07) March 2, 2019
Terry Locke, a Chandler Unified School District spokesman, confirmed to the Arizona Republic that one student was suspended, but said it wasn’t because of the MAGA gear. “As you know, federal privacy prevents schools from discussing student discipline. One student was disciplined for a matter not related to wearing Trump attire,” Locke said.
Farris stood by her claims that students were reprimanded for wearing MAGA attire, though, and said she wanted a public apology from the school.
“I think it’s because the faculty didn’t agree with the kids’ message to support their president and they don’t want them to express their feelings,” she told the Republic. “My kids are expressing freedom of speech on USA Day. They’re allowed to.”
Heidi Jones, whose daughter was also involved in the incident, told the Republic that she’d like an apology from the district.
“I feel bad for these children. I don’t agree with everything our president does or says, but I respect our country and I’ll support these kids using their freedom of speech,” she said.
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