"On Wednesday, Matt Smith wore to school the controversial purple Relay For Life cancer awareness T-shirt that Vance Middle School administrators banned Friday, claiming the shirt was disruptive to the school environment.
"[A faculty member] made me take it off. But I put it right back on," the defiant 12-year-old said.
Matt said he was one of several students wearing the shirt, or other purple-colored clothing, in protest on the fourth day of a controversy that began when administrators said students wearing the shirt banded together and caused a disruption in the school’s hallways.
He said his T-shirt wasn’t the only thing confiscated in school hallways on Wednesday. Copies of the Bristol Herald Courier were, too.
"No kids were allowed to read the newspaper today," Matt said. "The teachers usually get stacks, but [faculty] took them all away."
So what's the disruption? Here's more details from the report above, but it all seems fairly muddled to me.
"The Herald Courier ran a story in Tuesday’s edition about the T-shirt controversy, which outlined circumstances surrounding the dispute.
In the article, some students claimed the shirts – and all purple clothing – were banned because faculty said they had become symbols of a developing gang; allegations Vance Middle Principal Rigby Kind and Vice Principal Scott Latham said were untrue.
Both administrators said the shirts were banned under dress code guidelines that dictate any clothing that causes a disruption or draws undue attention to the student is counter to school policy.
Latham and Kind did not immediately return phone calls to the Herald Courier on Wednesday for this story.
Sheila Moore, whose son is also in the seventh grade at Vance Middle and who was asked to take off his shirt on Friday, said the students’ behavior isn’t what disturbs her about the controversy, but rather the administrators who were quoted in Tuesday’s article, saying the issue was not gang-related and that Latham had received no phone calls from parents.
"I’m not saying that the kids did nothing wrong. I mean, kids will be kids," she said. "... But for [Latham] to say no one contacted him, that bothered me, and when he said no one was alleging it was a gang, well, that isn’t true."
Moore said she had a telephone conversation with Latham on Tuesday afternoon, about two hours before he told the Herald Courier that no parents had contacted him. She said he told her the shirts had been banned because "he said the children have passed out these T-shirts to form a gang."
Latham could not be contacted to respond directly to Moore’s contention."
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