ETX father says son was placed in ISS for wearing Patriotic t-shirt, Superintendent denies ISS allegations
POSTED: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 3:27pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 - 2:11pm
Longview, Texas (KETK) —
An East Texas father is fighting a local school district after he says his son spent a day in In-School Suspension for refusing to change his shirt for what the school called a "controversial message," however, the school is denying the boy was placed in ISS.
Andy Davidson, Owner/President at Davidson Energy Services and Owner/Builder at Davidson Construction and Properties in Kilgore posted on his Facebook page he had an encounter with the assistant-principal and principal at Spring Hill Junior High School in Longview, regarding the text and message on the shirt his son wore to school. The t-shirt had the Bible verse, Romans 13:12, which states “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light," printed on it.
Spring Hill Junior High School in Longview, Texas
Davidson told The Blaze, "I am proud my son stood up for his rights, choosing suspension instead of taking off a t-shirt that Davidson claims school officials found offensive."
Andy's son, an eighth-grader at Spring Hill Middle School, wore a shirt printed by Davidson's company Maker's Militia, which he started in 2012, that had an eagle printed in yellow on the front with the Bible verse on the back, an American flag on the left sleeve and a message which the district deemed "controversial," "God, guns and country."
According to Davidson, the Principal Kathy Parker told him, "Your son is wearing offensive apparel today. I believe it reads 'God, guns, country,' and we need to address this situation, by him either changing his clothes, or turning the shirt inside-out." Davidson says he then asked the principal who the message was offensive toward and the principal answered, "It's offensive to me, and I'm sure many others, both here at school and in public."
Davidson told The Blaze, Assistant-Principal Beau Vincent, stated he had been waiting for his son to wear the shirt to school again. Then, Andy says his son was taken to Principal Parker’s office where he was told he could either flip his shirt inside out or wear a school-issued shirt over it. His son refused to do either.
Kathy Parker, Principal Beau Vincent, Assistant Principal
Davidson went on to say administrators told his son to call his parents so that they could bring him another shirt. Davidson says he promptly drove to the school and proceeded to have an hour-long conversation with the school administration.
The principal asked him if he was going to make his son remove his shirt to which Davidson said he answered, "No, I am not going to make him take off his clothing that is designed in support of our creator and the constitution of the United States of America."
Davidson says Principal Parker threatened his son with an increasingly harsher punishment if he continued to wear clothing of this sort.
Davidson says he quickly responded by saying, "Very well, you should expect to hear from my attorney soon, and you should also contact your superiors to see if they also agree with your suppression and ignoring of the rights of your students and their tax paying parents. And by the way, you should be aware that shirts do not dictate nor have a behavior of their own, neither do guns. Good day, ma'am."
On page 22-24 of the Spring Hill Independent School District Student Code of Conduct, the dress code is lined out as follows:
"T-shirts or other clothing with pictures, logos, phrases, letters, or words printed on them that are obscene, suggestive, crude, or immoral in the judgment of the administration are prohibited. This shall include, but shall not be limited to nude/semi-nude figures, pictures or logos of alcoholic beverages and tobacco; obscene gestures; curse words; slang words; portrayal of drug paraphernalia; figures in suggestive postures; skulls and crossbones; and macabre words or graphics. If the principal determines that a student’s grooming or clothing violates the school’s dress code, the student will be given an opportunity to correct the problem at school. If not corrected, the student will be assigned to in-school suspension for the remainder of the day, until the problem is corrected, or until a parent or designee brings an acceptable change of clothing to the school. Repeated offenses may result in more serious disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct."
Wes Jones, Superintendent of Spring Hill Schools, released the following statement, Thursday, after the situation gained national media attention the day prior:
Superintendent, Wes Jones.
"Spring Hill ISD works to protect the well-being of our students, and as much as possible, to provide a learning environment without disruption. Due to the media attention given to recent public and school shootings, guns in schools have received a lot of attention. At our schools we want our students to feel safe and not threatened so they can concentrate on school activities. The JH administration asked that students not wear shirts at school that depicted knives, guns or other weapons.
Please understand that no student has been suspended or placed in ISS for wearing a shirt related to weapons. However, we will enforce our dress code as necessary to minimize disruptions at school, including protecting other students from messages or images that are threatening, promote violence, or otherwise disrupt the educational environment.
Again, no student has been suspended or placed in ISS for dress code due to wearing a shirt in reference to weapons. Due to student confidentiality I cannot speak publicly about a specific student's situation.
Please contact your student's campus if you have any questions."
An article has surfaced on the internet pegging Principal Parker as Adolf Hitler and the school district as "The New Gestapo." KETK reached out to the mother of the eighth-grader involved in this incident in regards to the matter concerning her son and to clarify neither she nor her son had anything to do with that article making its way around the web:
"My son's shirt in no way promotes gun violence. It is however in support of our constitutional rights including freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the Second Amendment. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the constitution taught in our schools? Are we going to ban history books now? I stand firm in my faith and protecting my son's constitutional rights. However, I do not approve of the link circulating Facebook referring to Spring Hill ISD as the "New Gestapo." I think the article is immature, tacky, disrespectful and highly offensive. I assure you my son nor I had any part in writing the article and apologize to anyone who may also be offended by it. Please do not associate my son or me with it. My son was not suspended. Any action that is taken in regards to this matter needs to be done tastefully, peacefully, truthfully and with class. It is hypocritical to be standing up for God in such a demeaning way. I would also like to add, after all the feedback that has been received, I believe the majority of Spring Hill students and parents disagree with the school's decision to prohibit or ban pro-God or pro-constitutional, non-violent nor aggressive shirts such as the one my son was wearing, Perhaps a district-wide vote for the students and parents would be the best way to solve this issue."
KETK has attempted to contact Andy Davidson after he agreed to an interview on Wednesday. Our calls, e-mails and messages have yet to be returned.