Last week, two brothers were punished by their elementary schools for wearing T-shirts that said ‘Black Lives Matter’ on them. The eight and five-year-old boys’ mother, Ms. Jordan Herbert, was told by the superintendent of Ardmore City Schools that politics “would not be allowed at school”.
On April 30th, Bentlee who is a third grader, wore a shirt saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ to Charles Evans Elementary. The school’s principal, Denise Brunk, told the young boy that he was not allowed to wear the T-shirt. Principal Brunk had him turn it inside out for the remainder of the school day. Ms. Herbert spoke with school staff and was told that her child had to turn his shirt inside out not because he had violated any section of the student handbook, but because of politics.
Kids forced to remove BLM shirt due to “politics”
“I told her Black Lives Matter has nothing to do with politics and my son is eight, he knows nothing about politics,” Ms. Herbert told The Daily Ardmoreite last Tuesday.
Ms. Herbert was then told that any further clarification on the matter would have to be discussed with Ardmore City School superintendent Kim Holland.
“I got in touch with him, met with him, we had a 40-minute conversation. I asked him to show me in the policy dress code where it said he couldn’t wear it, he said it wasn’t in there,” said Ms. Herbert.
Mom sends sons back to school in BLM shirts
On the same day Ms. Herbert spoke with The Daily Ardmoreite, all three of her sons wore shirts that said Black Lives Matter to school, and two of them were punished for it. Her oldest, sixth grader Jaelon at Ardmore Middle School, was not disciplined for his shirt. Bentlee was required to sit in his school’s main office, missing recess and eating lunch with his peers. Rodney, a kindergartner at Will Rogers Elementary, was forced to sit in the school’s office until the end of the school day. Ms. Herbert received a phone call from Will Rogers’ staff telling her that she needed to bring a new shirt for Rodney to wear, let the school provide a different shirt for him, or he would remain in the office the remainder of the day.
The student handbook makes no mention of politics when it comes to children’s clothing. It says that “sayings or logos” on shirts or tops “should be in good taste and school appropriate.”
“Any clothing or apparel that disrupts the learning process is prohibited,” the handbook adds, stipulating that principals have the final say on “the appropriateness of dress.”
American Civil Liberties Union claps back
On Friday, the ACLU of Oklahoma sent a letter to Mr. Holland, Ms. Brunk and James Foreman Jr., president of the Ardmore City School Board of Education.
In the letter, the ACLU said it would be a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights to be prohibited from wearing clothing that says “Black Lives Matter.”
If the school district does not reverse its policy and allow students to wear “Black Lives Matter” clothing, it must be prepared to prove in federal court how wearing the T-shirts creates “a substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities,” the ACLU said. “Anything less than that would be found to be a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights.”
Ardmore City School’s superintendent department declined to respond when The Black Wall Street Times reached out for comment.