Teen arrested for wearing an NRA T-shirt
Jared Marcum is 14 and a student at a middle school in West Virginia. His school district has a dress code that prohibits clothing and any accessories that display violence, profanity, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases.
In April, 2013, Jared wore a t-shirt to school that had the logo of the National Rifle Association on it along with a rifle. He was in line in the cafeteria when a teacher approached and told him to either turn the shirt inside out or change it. Jared refused and was sent to the office. He was asked again to remove his NRA shirt and, when he refused, the police were called. He was arrested and charges of disrupting an educational process were referred to the local prosecutor. The incident is under investigation.
Jared was given a one-day suspension by the school but it remains unclear whether he will have to serve the penalty. Jared’s parents have hired a lawyer to represent him. Jared reportedly stated the following after being arrested: “I was surprised. It shocked me that the school didn’t know their own dress code and their own policy. I figured they would have known not to call me out on that shirt because there was nothing wrong with it.”
We have written many times about dress codes and the consequences for violations at school. School policies must be specific as to what’s allowed and what’s prohibited. Otherwise students’ freedom of expression may be infringed. We’ll keep you posted as Jared’s case develops.
Update: In June, Jared was formally charged with obstructing an officer. He allegedly wouldn’t stop talking when told to by a police officer investigating the incident at school. He now faces a $500.00 fine and up to one year in jail if convicted. On June 27, 2013, the charges against Jared were dropped. Neither side any merit in creating a criminal record for the boy. This was a wise decision.