Schools respond to shirt issue

Say political shirts are allowed


Harnett County Schools say as long as it’s not disruptful, students can wear clothing “expressing political messages.”

This is in response to a student who was allegedly told not to wear a shirt with President Donald Trump’s name on it at a Harnett Central High School football game.

Harnett Central High School Principal Cindy Gordon reportedly asked student Matthew Collins to take off a shirt with President Trump’s last name on the back, according to Matthew’s father, Michael Collins. Matthew wore the shirt after students were encouraged to wear patriotic colors to the game. He was sitting in the student section of the bleachers.

The red, white and blue jersey-style shirt had the letters USA on the front along with a picture of the Statue of Liberty. In addition to Trump’s name, the back of the shirt also has the number 45 on it. That marks the fact President Trump is the 45th president.

Mrs. Gordon reportedly said some parents had complained about the shirt.

Harnett County Schools Public Information Officer Natalie Ferrell issued an official statement on behalf of school administrators on the issue.

“While we cannot comment on specific student issues, the Harnett County Schools supports and affirms students’ rights to express themselves,” the statement read. “As long as the expression does not disrupt, and is not reasonably expected to disrupt the educational mission of the school system, these rights include wearing clothing expressing political messages or supporting political candidates.”

Harnett County School Board Chairman Bill Morris said Tuesday the issue is being handled internally. He would not comment on whether there will be any personnel action taken relating to the case.

The Collins family has hired Lillington attorney Tony Buzzard to represent them.

Mr. Buzzard said Tuesday he is waiting to see what action the school board takes on the issue. He said at that time, “action will be taken against the principal and possibly others.” Mr. Buzzard also said there were multiple witnesses to the incident.

Ms. Gordon has not returned phone calls relating to the matter.


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