School officials say they were wrong to punish boy over NRA T-shirt

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Grand Island Central School District is changing its dress code policy after an outcry when a boy was suspended for refusing to take-off or turn his NRA T-shirt inside out.

Protestors rallied outside Grand Island High School in March after the student was suspended for insubordination when school officials said he violated the dress code and refused to take-off or turn his T-shirt inside out.

At Tuesday night’s board meeting, Superintendent Teresa Lawrence addressed the community’s concerns, saying the recent events caused officials to review the dress code and their response to infractions.

She said, “We recognize we were wrong in our response to a perceived violation of our dress code and the response has been corrected.”

Lawrence says the issue is multifaceted, but ultimately officials determined “merely displaying an image of what might be perceived as undesirable image by some – or one that challenges the dress code – on a piece of clothing is not sufficient to warrant the actions we ask of students – turn inside out, change or take off.”

She says going forward, the district will be crafting a dress code that focuses on safety, upholds constitutional rights and meets community standards.

“We have stopped our long standing practice and have begun a process to review our dress code and responses to infractions. We welcome community representatives. Interested individuals should contact me at my office,” Lawrence said.

The student’s father, Wayne Kinney, tells News 4 the school’s decision is a step in the right direction, but he would have preferred a direct apology.

As for the man who organized the protest, Tea New York Spokesman Rus Thompson is satisfied with the about-face from the District, “I proclaim it to be a victory. Mission accomplished.”

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