California middle schooler Tony Burnett Jr. did not think that wearing the souvenir sweatshirt and t-shirt he got from his family’s recent vacation would cause the uproar it eventually did.
As reported by KTVU Channel 2, the Pinole Middle School student’s four-day family trip to Northern California and Oregon included a stop in Weed, California, a town near the California, Oregon border. While there he picked up a sweatshirt that read, “I [heart] Weed! California” and a t-shirt that read, “Enjoy Weed” When Tony wore the new items to school, officials were quick to let him know that the sweatshirt was inappropriate and violated the school’s dress code. He was then asked to turn the garment inside out.
Tony Jr. sent a text message to his father informing him of the incident and later asked to be picked up early from school because of the embarrassment it caused.
Dad Tony Burnett called KTVU about his son’s experience and told them, “It says, ‘I love Weed, California’ okay? What about, ‘I love Pinole, California,’ ‘I love Redding, California?’” Burnett continued, "I don't see any difference. Weed, California is a city that has been here a long, long time, and I just think that was wrong."
Charles Ramsey, the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board President, said that the district has a zero tolerance policy towards drugs and the district dress code is explained in the parent handbook that is distributed at the beginning of the year.
“[Tony Jr.] said that the teacher, or the counselor said that Weed, California is the same thing as weed you smoke,” said the father. “He don’t even smoke week, want nothing to do with weed, whatever drugs. He just picked up a souvenir.”
Ramsey admitted, “We know that maybe it's a little harsh and kids say…‘We know a place called Weed, California.” And it's something everyone knows is a location and geographic in California." The School Board President pointed to the district’s history of troubles including, arson, a gang rape, and a campus riot and said, “We just have to be a little paranoid about how we utilize our campuses.”
Video and more info: KTVU