Student suspended for wearing patriotic t-shirt to school

Bonnie

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BY GINA DAMRON
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060913/NEWS02/609130320
Ben Lewandowski says he was only trying to be patriotic when he wore a homemade T-shirt featuring an American flag bumper sticker and the words "Remember 9/11" to Lincoln Park High School on Monday.

After all, it was Sept. 11 -- five years after the terrorist attacks.

The 17-year-old Lincoln Park resident put the shirt on Monday morning and headed to school -- where he was quickly sent to the office and suspended for three days for violating the school's dress code.

He was one of at least seven students sent home for wearing shirts featuring patriotic images and messages. It comes less than a week after three siblings were suspended for wearing shirts emblazoned with the First Amendment, despite warnings, and a week after more than 200 students were sent home on the first day of school for violating the district's dress code -- which bans apparel with writing or pictures.

For Lewandowski, who was sent home on the first day of school for wearing a shirt with writing on it, Monday's incident was his second offense.

"I was frustrated," said the junior, whose desire to become a firefighter was fueled after the Sept. 11 attacks. "It just made me so mad that I can't be patriotic."

Lincoln Park Schools Superintendent Randall Kite said the high school held a moment of silence Monday to give students an outlet to show their patriotism. He said some students had asked last week whether they could wear shirts to commemorate the day, and they were told no.

"We didn't think it would be appropriate, because of the dress code, to wear T-shirts with writing," he said Tuesday.

According to the dress code, students are allowed to wear school-sanctioned clothing, such as T-shirts bearing the school's mascot or clothing that supports school organizations.

This, according to the ACLU of Michigan, may violate the students' rights, particularly because it allows students to wear clothing that encourages school spirit but bans other forms of expression. ACLU officials have said that they plan to look into the constitutionality of the dress code.

Kite said the district had lawyers review the policy before it was enacted. Members of the district's school board have said the dress code is lenient compared with other districts such as Detroit and Pontiac, which have banned jeans and T-shirts completely.

Southfield's school district implemented a dress code last year similar to those enacted in Detroit and Pontiac this year. Southfield Schools Deputy Superintendent Ken Siver said Tuesday that the district didn't have any problems Monday with students violating the policy to wear patriotic garb.

Still, some Lincoln Park parents say they feel the district has gone too far.

Kaye Belcuore's granddaughter, 14-year-old Karly Belcuore, was sent home Monday from Lincoln Park High for wearing a T-shirt with patriotic messages on it.

"I think it's a little ridiculous under the circumstances," Kaye Belcuore said.

Kelly Galley agrees. Her three children -- 13-year-old twins Monique and Jaicen Massa and 11-year-old Jaymie Massa -- were suspended last week for protesting the dress code by wearing T-shirts with the First Amendment on them. Jaymie had stayed home from Lincoln Park Middle School on Tuesday, but Monique and Jaicen wore the shirts again -- their third offense -- and were suspended again, this time for five days. One more offense and they'll be expelled.

Galley said it's likely she'll end up homeschooling.
 

fuzzykitten99

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I guess I am seeing this as a 'no exceptions' issue rather than what the message on the shirt itself was.

their policy is no writing on shirts, except with the school mascot on it-period. Allowing one person to wear something with writing, regardless of what it is, may fuel someone to wear things that are borderline, or downright offensive. Teens will always push the envelope. If they allowed him to wear the shirt, then they would have to allow another kid to be able to wear an anti-America (or whatever) shirt or other item. Result: possible flare-ups and/or fights among students.

There are other ways of remembering 9/11 instead of wearing a shirt with writing, which is directly against school code. They could wear a ribbon pinned to their shirt/bag/hair, or donate to the WTC charites, or whatever.

Personally, it is sad that the schools have to resort to this kind of thing, because parents aren't doing their job in paying attention to what their kids are wearing to school, or not instilling a strong set of values and morals, letting the media and MTV do it. Maybe school uniforms like they have in Australia should be the next step, so that this problem would cease to be one.
 

dmp

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Right - It's misleading to say he was suspended 'For wearing a patriotic TShirt'. He was really suspended for violating "Law" of the school.
 
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archangel

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I believe the parents of this school district should recall the school district superintendents...and fire the idiot teachers who see this as somehow unlawful...and or against policy! our world has somehow become turned up-side down! I have lived with this BS and fought the good fight in my small town...My GD was suspended last year for 3 days when another female student attacked her and she defended herself and put the idiot in the hospital...my GD has a 3.5 gpa and is involved in sports..came in second at the state finals last year in CC...she also has a job and is 'Very Social at school...this leave no student behind BS must go...to remedial school for those students who can't seem to get along...just my thoughts mind ya...but I for one am really tired of this BS!


I was told as well as the GD that she was suspended for "Rules" no matter who the perp was both get suspended...sorry not in my day if a perp attacked ya ya could defend yourself without being punished along with the perp...This makes me sic!
 

Hagbard Celine

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Mr. P

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The 17-year-old Lincoln Park resident put the shirt on Monday morning and headed to school -- where he was quickly sent to the office and suspended for three days for violating the school's dress code.
Break rules, deal with it. Not a problem, IMO.
 
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Bonnie

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I guess I am seeing this as a 'no exceptions' issue rather than what the message on the shirt itself was.

their policy is no writing on shirts, except with the school mascot on it-period. Allowing one person to wear something with writing, regardless of what it is, may fuel someone to wear things that are borderline, or downright offensive. Teens will always push the envelope. If they allowed him to wear the shirt, then they would have to allow another kid to be able to wear an anti-America (or whatever) shirt or other item. Result: possible flare-ups and/or fights among students.

There are other ways of remembering 9/11 instead of wearing a shirt with writing, which is directly against school code. They could wear a ribbon pinned to their shirt/bag/hair, or donate to the WTC charites, or whatever.

Personally, it is sad that the schools have to resort to this kind of thing, because parents aren't doing their job in paying attention to what their kids are wearing to school, or not instilling a strong set of values and morals, letting the media and MTV do it. Maybe school uniforms like they have in Australia should be the next step, so that this problem would cease to be one.
True, but I wonder why the standard isn't the same in all schools and for all expressions of ideas?

I think there should be mandatory uniforms or at least dress codes for many reasons. Most girls wear very revealing clothes, and young boys cannot handle seeing that daily.
When I was in school we could not wear mini-skirts, or halters tops. I see no reason why that can't be enforced.
 

manu1959

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Right - It's misleading to say he was suspended 'For wearing a patriotic TShirt'. He was really suspended for violating "Law" of the school.
100 bucks says:

if a kid shows up wearing a rainbow t-shirt with

"i love my two daddies on it"

they don't get sent home
 

Hagbard Celine

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True, but I wonder why the standard isn't the same in all schools and for all expressions of ideas?

I think there should be mandatory uniforms or at least dress codes for many reasons. Most girls wear very revealing clothes, and young boys cannot handle seeing that daily.
When I was in school we could not wear mini-skirts, or halters tops. I see no reason why that can't be enforced.
I know here in Georgia girls still can't wear mini-skirts or halter or tube tops to school. I was born in the wrong decade.
 

jillian

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Break rules, deal with it. Not a problem, IMO.
I agree. It seems more that the school wanted to enforce its rules across the board rather than grant exceptions because of content.

I do want to point out, though, that the ACLU is defending the kid's right to expression....
 
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Bonnie

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100 bucks says:

if a kid shows up wearing a rainbow t-shirt with

"i love my two daddies on it"

they don't get sent home
Exactly.. Kudos to this school if they abide by a single standard, but they would be the exception over the rule.
 

Hagbard Celine

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100 bucks says:

if a kid shows up wearing a rainbow t-shirt with

"i love my two daddies on it"

they don't get sent home
If it has writing on it they get sent home. "I love my two daddies on it" is writing. As for the rainbow, I don't know any self-respecting kid who would wear a t-shirt like that, but I think if they did, colors are still legal to wear so you're right in that regard.
 

manu1959

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True, but I wonder why the standard isn't the same in all schools and for all expressions of ideas?

I think there should be mandatory uniforms or at least dress codes for many reasons. Most girls wear very revealing clothes, and young boys cannot handle seeing that daily.
When I was in school we could not wear mini-skirts, or halters tops. I see no reason why that can't be enforced.

no never.................:dev3:
 
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Bonnie

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I know here in Georgia girls still can't wear mini-skirts or halter or tube tops to school. I was born in the wrong decade.
Where I live I see it all the time!! I can't believe how some mothers let their daughters go to school dressed. My father would have had my head on a platter LOL
 
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archangel

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100 bucks says:

if a kid shows up wearing a rainbow t-shirt with

"i love my two daddies on it"

they don't get sent home


If one is politically correct...they can get away with murder...heaven forbid ya defend yourself or speak your mind then... "No student left behind applies" some comments as above make me ill...cater to the left less ya be chastized...c'mon Bonnie et al ya started out okay then caved in...is there no more honesty in our country? Everything is up-side down....! yuk to ya all whimps! Not you Manu...you hit the mark!
 

Mr. P

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I agree. It seems more that the school wanted to enforce its rules across the board rather than grant exceptions because of content.

I do want to point out, though, that the ACLU is defending the kid's right to expression....
It figures. I think a students rights end at the door of the school for the most part, the same for an employee walking into the workplace. Of course I’m talking about abiding by rules here, not rights really, which is (IMO) the problem. The “I have rights and you can’t tell me what to do” stuff has become the norm. That has, and is, damaging the Country. The ACLU isn’t helping, IMO.
 

jillian

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It figures. I think a students rights end at the door of the school for the most part, the same for an employee walking into the workplace. Of course I’m talking about abiding by rules here, not rights really, which is (IMO) the problem. The “I have rights and you can’t tell me what to do” stuff has become the norm. That has, and is, damaging the Country. The ACLU isn’t helping, IMO.

I actually agree with you on all counts. I think at school and work we have to abide by the codes of conduct that are dictated (so long as there's nothing discriminatory or illegal in the code of conduct, obviously). I even agree that the ACLU making a case out of it would be non-productive. I only made mention of it because so many here talk about how the ACLU defends certain things based on content, yet here are taking the side of the kid who wants to show his "patriotic feelings". They are just doing what the ACLU always does.... defends the right to unrestricted speech, regardless of content. ;)

That said, I think if you go to a school, you have to live by its rules. Personally, I think uniforms aren't a bad idea... levels the playing field, especially during the adolescent years, and keeps the focus on school work. I also think having to dress in an appropriate manner emphasizes that school is a place for work.
 
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Bonnie

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I actually agree with you on all counts. I think at school and work we have to abide by the codes of conduct that are dictated (so long as there's nothing discriminatory or illegal in the code of conduct, obviously). I even agree that the ACLU making a case out of it would be non-productive. I only made mention of it because so many here talk about how the ACLU defends certain things based on content, yet here are taking the side of the kid who wants to show his "patriotic feelings". They are just doing what the ACLU always does.... defends the right to unrestricted speech, regardless of content. ;)

That said, I think if you go to a school, you have to live by its rules. Personally, I think uniforms aren't a bad idea... levels the playing field, especially during the adolescent years, and keeps the focus on school work. I also think having to dress in an appropriate manner emphasizes that school is a place for work.
I agree with all that, however the problem I have is that in most schools there is a double standard for students and even teachers expressing themselves with clothing or jewelry. If we are to establish standards they need to be across the board no exceptions even for Muslims.
 
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archangel

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I actually agree with you on all counts. I think at school and work we have to abide by the codes of conduct that are dictated (so long as there's nothing discriminatory or illegal in the code of conduct, obviously). I even agree that the ACLU making a case out of it would be non-productive. I only made mention of it because so many here talk about how the ACLU defends certain things based on content, yet here are taking the side of the kid who wants to show his "patriotic feelings". They are just doing what the ACLU always does.... defends the right to unrestricted speech, regardless of content. ;)

That said, I think if you go to a school, you have to live by its rules. Personally, I think uniforms aren't a bad idea... levels the playing field, especially during the adolescent years, and keeps the focus on school work. I also think having to dress in an appropriate manner emphasizes that school is a place for work.

comment...smacks of 'Communism" in my humble opinion...all say individuality is important as long as it is not enforced..whats up with all this caving into the right to not excell for the sake of those who have no desire...This is up-side down and backward thinking...imo!
 

jillian

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I agree with all that, however the problem I have is that in most schools there is a double standard for students and even teachers expressing themselves with clothing or jewelry. If we are to establish standards they need to be across the board no exceptions even for Muslims.
I agree with you to the extent that rules should be across the board. I'm not certain, though, if you're saying that muslims should have to wear secular dress even if its against their religion. I would have a problem with that, same as I would a prohibition against a student wearing a cross or a yarmulke. That's the kind of stuff they did in France and while I see where it comes from, I disagree with it. But like I said, I'm not sure if that's where you're going with this.
 

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