A high school student in Indiana was suspended from school for wearing a T-shirt that honored the memory of a slain friend.
When 17-year-old Austin Neuhouser arrived at North Side High School on Sept. 7, he was asked to go back home, WPTA reported.
“School officials stopped me, asking me to change my shirt or flip it inside out,” Neuhouser told the news station. “I refused to take it off, so they suspended me for the rest of the day.”
The shirt in question had a picture of 17-year-old Dontay White on it, a friend of Neuhouser’s who was shot and killed May 19.
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“Wearing this shirt means a lot to me because he [White] was a very, very close friend of mine. He was family to me,” Neuhouser said.
Amy Simmerman-Tellas, Neuhouser’s mother, said she was outraged when she heard about the suspension.
“You have to let students grieve, and having Dontay’s presence through a shirt is a way of grieving,” Simmerman-Tellas told the news station, referring to Dontay has her “other son.”
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Simmerman-Tellas said she was told by school officials that students were prohibited from wearing any clothing that says, “Rest in Peace or, “In Memory Of.”
“Nowhere on the shirt does it say those words,” she explained. “It's just his picture and 'You Run, I Fly' which is a Michael Jordan slogan.”
Fort Wayne Community Schools responded to the incident by citing the 2016-2017 student handbook. The code of conduct states:
Inappropriate clothing or other attire that may disrupt the classroom is not allowed. Examples include, but [are] not limited to: clothing with slogans, sayings or messages that are solicitous, profane, obscene or advertise such things as alcoholic beverages, illegal substances; apparel representative of or worn in a way to indicate gang affiliation; and/or apparel depicting derogatory or inflammatory racial, ethnic, memorial apparel, religious slogans or symbols or symbols of violence.
Still, Simmerman-Tellas and Neuhouser insist that the shirt is so much more than a piece of clothing.
“It represents a child that was taken away way too soon,” Simmerman-Tellas said. “They, the children, should be able to wear their shirts to school. I don't see anything wrong with them at all.”