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O.C. school apologizes for making girl remove NRA T-shirt

Canyon High officials say they erred in telling Haley Bullwinkle that the NRA T-shirt violated the school's dress code against clothing that depicts violence.

October 03, 2013|By Adolfo Flores

A high school student who grabbed a National Rifle Assn. T-shirt in her hurry to find something to wear to school was confronted by campus officials who forced the student to remove her shirt or face disciplinary action , the girl's parents said.

Haley Bullwinkle complied with the demand, took off the white T-shirt in the health office and put on a school shirt that officials at Canyon High in Anaheim gave her, but came home confused and frightened, said the girl's father, who said he received the shirt when he joined the NRA.

"I felt like they were violating my rights, my freedom of speech," the sophomore said. "I want to be able to wear what I want to wear within reason."

On Thursday, the school changed course, apologized to the 16-year-old and said campus staff will be trained so that "an incident like this does not occur again."

The T-shirt was white with an American flag and a silhouette of a hunter with a rifle and the slogan: "National Rifle Association of America, Protecting America's Traditions Since 1871."

In asking the student to remove the shirt, school officials said the depiction of the rifle was a violation of the school's dress code.

When the student's parents wrote to the principal, suggesting that administrators had infringed on their daughter's constitutional rights, Principal Kimberly Fricker responded by sending the parents the school's policy on clothing that depicts violence.

The school's dress code prohibits clothing that promotes or depicts violence, criminal activity and anything that's degrading to ethnic values, among other restrictions.

However, after reviewing the images on the shirt, Fricker concluded that it didn't promote violence, the Orange Unified School District said in a statement.

In 2012 Canyon High School made headlines for its "Seniores and Señoritas" day events in which students dressed as gang members and a pregnant woman pushing a baby stroller.

The school, which approved the event, has since canceled it after determining that the activities were demeaning toward Latinos and their culture.

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