Student suspended over NRA t-shirt
An eighth grade boy has been arrested and suspended after he refused to take off an NRA t-shirt that he wore to school.
A West Virginia eighth-grader student has been charged with causing a disruption at his middle school after he refused to remove an NRA T-shirt that he wore.
The teenager was reportedly arrested and suspended last week after getting into an argument with his teacher about a National Rifle Association T-shirt he wore to school.
WOWK-TV reports that Jared Marcum faces charges of obstruction and disturbing the education process for refusing to change the shirt, which shows a rifle and the slogan, “protect your right.”
Jared told the station the he was punished by officials at Logan Middle School after arguing about the shirt with his teacher, who reportedly objected to the image of the gun on the shirt.
“What they’re doing is trying to take away my rights, my freedom of speech and my Second Amendment,” Jared told the station.
Jared’s father, Allen Lardieri, told WOWK-TV he is upset his son was briefly jailed for something he believes was blown out of proportion.
“I don’t see how anybody would have an issue with a hunting rifle and NRA put on a T-shirt, especially when policy doesn’t forbid it,” Lardieri told the station.
A Logan County School District official refused a request for comment from WOWK-TV, but police in Logan confirmed Jared’s arrest last Thursday.
On the first day of Jared’s suspension, some of his friends reportedly wore shirts displaying images of firearms and at least one was told by an educator to change their attire, according to the report.
Police charged him with disrupting an educational process and obstructing an officer, he said.
“The only disturbance was caused by the teacher. He raised his voice,” he said.
A call to the Logan Police Department rang unanswered on Sunday and an automated message said the voice mail system was full.
Lardieri said Marcum wore the shirt during five class periods before he was ordered to remove it.
Logan County Schools’ dress code, which is posted on the school system’s website, prohibits clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. Clothing displaying advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco, or drug product also is prohibited.
Their lawyer, Ben White, said that the T-shirt did not appear to violate any school policy.
“I just don’t understand why this teacher reacted the way he did,” said White, who said he asked school officials to preserve surveillance video of the cafeteria.
White said he planned to meet Monday with Principal Ernestine Sutherland.
A message left Sunday at a phone listing for an Ernestine Sutherland in Logan wasn’t immediately returned.
White said schools can place restrictions on students to prevent disruptions, but can’t take away their First Amendment right to free speech.
“If a teacher is telling you to do something that’s wrong, I don’t think you should follow it. But I also don’t think you need to do it in a disrespectful way,” he said, adding that he does not think Marcum was disrespectful.
White said he also wants to get the criminal charges dropped.