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Student Punished for Wearing American Flag Shirt: Right Call?


Students protested by wearing red, white, and blue duds to school after a fellow student was punished for wearing an American flag shirt. The sophomore wore the tee, which featured a tie-dyed flag motif and the words, "United States of America, Washington, DC" on the school's "hippie day," part of their homecoming festivities. The school's assistant principle deemed the shirt a violation of the school's dress code which forbids, "shirts/blouses that promote specific races, cultures, or ethnicities."

For wearing the flag shirt, the student was forced to remove it and wear a bright yellow tee in its place that read, "DCV: Dress Code Violator." His sister said the punishment shirt was pretty traumatic, "It was really embarrassing and humiliating to have to wear that all day — and just for supporting your country." The school has since reversed its decision amid the protest and publicity. The superintendent says that the assistant principle felt it was in violation of the dress code, but they've now changed their interpretation of the clause. He says, "Certainly we are taking responsibility for it and it will not happen again. A shirt that has an American flag, a shirt that has a Chinese flag or a Mexican flag, is certainly not a violation of that part of the dress code." District officials have apologized to the student, and the student body turned out fully clad in red, white, and blue the following day.

Was the administrator right to interpret the clause as she did?

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