Parents in Battle Creek, Mich., were shocked to learn that students were forbidden from honoring their 12-year-old classmate Caitlyn Jackson, who died of cancer on Saturday after a four-year battle with leukemia.
Students wore T-shirts with Caitlyn’s name on them to Lakeview Middle School on Monday, but grief counselors told them they had to cover up because of a school policy that forbids student memorials, WWMT reported.
Students had to turn their shirts inside out or put tape over Caitlyn’s name.
Gracie Macphee, a 13-year-old Lakeview student, told the Battle Creek Enquirer that she was called down to the office and told the shirt “triggers too much emotion” and that “it’s like you’re forcing people to mourn.”
Caitlyn’s family was shocked when district leaders said that it could upset students if they see her name on the shirts.
“I said I didn’t think my heart could break anymore,” said Caitlyn’s mother, Melinda Jackson. “Not only did they do that, they tore a piece of my heart out, rolled it up, threw it on the floor and stomped on it.”
“Everything changes; we were coming home without our daughter,” said Caitlyn’s father, Jeff Jackson. “I’m sorry. It changes everything.”
Amy Jones, the Lakeview finance director acting as district chief, said the school’s decision to ban the shirts was based on the “crisis management plan” which prohibits “permanent memorials” for students. Jones says the plan is “based on a lot of research and expert opinion.”
The Lakeview School District released a statement apologizing for their actions and promising a review of their policy.
“We sincerely regret that our actions caused additional stress for Caitlyn’s family and friends,” said the school district’s statement. “The Jackson’s [sic] spent time with district staff ... and as a result of our conversations, the district has committed to reviewing the crisis management plan that guides us in these situations and students will be allowed to wear clothing bearing Caitlyn’s name.”