Mother mad over shirt flap at Central High
Patty Sinclair readily admits her son, Dillon, isn’t a straight-A student. She also insists he isn’t a troublemaker. In fact, he’s a member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at Central High School.
That’s why she says she was upset with Central administrators who called her Friday and told her she needed to bring her son another shirt because the Insane Clown Posse T-shirt he was wearing violated the school’s dress code.
Sinclair said the school’s policy violates her son’s First Amendment rights to free speech.
But Central Principal Jody Frost said the rap-metal duo’s song lyrics are violent and negative toward women and authority. She also noted the group is often identified with a symbol, a laughing clown carrying a hatchet, that can be affiliated with gangs.
“It’s just not an acceptable form of advertisement on a shirt,” Frost said. “We’re not letting Corona in. We’re not going to let Insane Clown Posse in.”
Central’s dress code prohibits several forms of “inappropriate attire” and includes a specific reference to “clothing or jewelry signifying ICP, Twizted or any group connected with Psychopathic Records.”
The school says its goal is to balance individual expression with “an atmosphere conducive to learning.”
“Students are expected to dress appropriately and groom themselves for school and activities in a way that promotes personal, school and community pride. Therefore, student dress and appearance shall not be hazardous to the health or safety of anyone in the school community, nor shall it have a negative effect on or be disruptive to the educational process.”
The controversy over ICP shirts in schools is not new. In 2001, an Indiana high school senior sued his school for banning ICP shirts, but a federal judge ruled the school had the authority to enact such a ban. A Colorado Springs school district in 2004 banned clothing associated with ICP.
Patty Sinclair suggested Central’s policy is inconsistent, noting she brought Dillon an Iron Maiden T-shirt that featured an image of a skeleton coming out of the ground. She said school administrators didn’t object to it.
“Which one looks more threatening?” she said.
Sinclair also noted that Dillon wore the ICP shirt for his school picture that will appear in the yearbook. She said he wants to get an ICP tattoo, and that she’ll probably let him do it because both she and Dillon’s father have tattoos.
“What are they going to make him do, get his arm cut off because he has that tattoo?” she said.
Frost said it wasn’t the first time she has had to admonish Dillon Sinclair for his attire. While she wouldn’t speak specifically about him, she said the only time she sends a student home to change clothes or has a parent bring different clothes to school is if the student has violated the school’s dress code several times.
“We don’t want distractions in the classroom. We have enough of those as it is. We just don’t need this other piece here,” Frost said. “After they leave campus they’re free to wear whatever they want.”