Two brothers, 8 and 5, were removed from their Oklahoma elementary school classrooms this past week and made to wait out the school day in a front office for wearing T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter,” according to the boys’ mother.
The superintendent of the Ardmore, Okla., school district where the brothers, Bentlee and Rodney Herbert, attend different schools had previously told their mother, Jordan Herbert, that politics would “not be allowed at school,” Ms. Herbert recalled on Friday.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has called the incident a violation of the students’ First Amendment rights.
On April 30, Bentlee, who is in the third grade, went to class at Charles Evans Elementary in a Black Lives Matter shirt, which Ms. Herbert said he had picked out himself to wear.
The Daily Ardmoreite, Mr. Holland suggested that the T-shirts were disruptive.
“It’s our interpretation of not creating a disturbance in school,” Mr. Holland told the newspaper. “I don’t want my kids wearing MAGA hats or Trump shirts to school either because it just creates, in this emotionally charged environment, anxiety and issues that I don’t want our kids to deal with.”
Mr. Holland said there had been similar cases in the district this year.
“Most of it has not been an issue until this lady here has been angry about it,” Mr. Holland told The Ardmoreite. “I wish she weren’t so upset.”
Ms. Herbert said she met with Mr. Holland on Monday and asked him what would happen if she sent her children to school in “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts again.
“He told me nothing could be done because it wasn’t against policy,” Ms. Herbert recalled.
Indeed, the dress code outlined in the district’s Elementary Student Handbook makes no mention of politics. It says that “sayings or logos” on shirts or tops “should be in good taste and school appropriate.”
“Any clothing or apparel that disrupts the learning process is prohibited,” the handbook adds, stipulating that principals have the final say on “the appropriateness of dress.”