INWOOD, W.Va. — A 15-year-old student at Musselman High School is at the center of a controversy surrounding the school system’s dress code policy.
School officials asked the boy to cover the “Last Stand” decals on his “Dukes of Hazzard” shirt last week by turning it inside out.
The shirt in this featured a “Rebel Cross” which is part of the controversial Confederate battle flag.
Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon told WEPM News Wednesday they weren’t making a political statement when they backed a history teacher’s decision to cover the image, but were actually enforcing their long standing dress code.
“People can say this was a knee jerk reaction,” he said. “I was principal in this district 25 years ago and we had this same policy.”
Arvon recalled keeping spare t-shirts in his desk for potential offenders.
He said the dress code policy is in place to avoid potential classroom distractions.
Concerns have been raised that such decisions infringe on student’s right to free speech, but Arvon said that is not the case here.
“This isn’t the place for demonstration,” he said. ““When our children come to school I want them ready to learn.”
Arvon was quick to say the student in this instance was not trying to make a political statement, but said the dress code does not infringe on their rights to do so outside of instructional time.
The goal, Arvon said, is to avoid any situation that could deteriorate a great learning environment for students.