Illinois Father Challenges School Dress Code After Son Is Forced to Remove Marines T-Shirt

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

An Illinois father wants his school district to revise its dress code after his son was asked to remove his Marines T-shirt or be suspended.

Daniel McIntyre, 44, of Genoa, said his son was told the interlocking rifles on the front of the garment did not comply with Genoa-Kingston Middle School’s dress code. Eighth grade teacher Karen Deverell told McIntyre's son Michael, 14, that the shirt had to be removed from sight and suggested turning it inside out. When Michael did not immediately comply, the teacher threatened suspension.

“My son is very proud of the Marines, and, in fact, of all the services,” McIntyre told “So he wears it with pride. There are two rifles crossed underneath the word ‘Marines’ on the shirt, but to me that should be overlooked. It’s more about the Marines instead of the rifles.”

McIntyre said his son has worn the shirt to school many times without incident. “He was upset, he couldn’t understand it,” he continued. “He couldn’t understand why a teacher would make him do that.”

“We’ve been accused of a lot of things, but our middle school is well-known for its support of the armed forces,” said The Genoa-Kingston Superintendent Joe Burgess . “That’s why this is so disheartening to all of us.”

Burgess agreed that the shirt is not in violation of the dress code and that, if Deverell had informed school officials of the incident, the school’s principal Brett McPherson would have quickly determined this. Instead, the district said in a statement, they learned about the matter through the media.

The dress code says student clothing should be of a “neat, clean and well-fitting manner.” Violent behavior, gang symbols, and other inappropriate images are cited, but images of guns and other weapons are not explicitly banned.

The school posted an apology to their website Tuesday for anyone offended by the teacher’s reaction. A statement from district officials reads, “We also take school safety very earnestly and it needs to be recognized that is a topic that we also take very seriously and support our students and staff in providing a safe environment to learn, teach and work in on a daily basis.”

McIntyre said he believes that the incident is an overreaction stemming from the mass shooting at Sandy Hook in December, where Adam Lanza opened fire at the Connecticut school, killing 20 students and six staff members.

“This is not right. This policy that they have in place can obviously be loosely interpreted, so they need to change it,” McIntyre said.