LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Officials at a high school in Jefferson County are disputing a student’s claim that he was suspended for wearing a T-shirt that said Border Patrol.
The controversy has been a hot topic on radio talk shows and in the school’s newspaper. On a political blog called abovetopsecret.com a post about the issue has gathered more than 60 comments.
The teenager says he was harassed after the newspaper at Dakota Ridge High School ran an article about the shirts, which he and at least one other student wore. The article mentioned that students and staff were scared by its message.
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo joined the student Thursday night at a board meeting for the Jefferson County School District to show his support.
“We are looking at, if nothing else, political correctness run amok,” Tancredo said to the board.
Tancredo, formerly a Republican Congressman and most recently an American Constitution Party candidate for governor, is an outspoken opponent of easing immigration laws.
“I know that he was called in about (the shirt) and he was harassed about it and it’s just not right,” Tancredo told CBS4. He said it is “just a typical example” of how the district goes overboard with their philosophy of political correctness.
Superintendent Dr. Cindy Stevenson said there’s a lot of misinformation going around relating to the shirts. She said the district and its staff “are strong believers in freedom of speech” and that anyone who was disciplined was disciplined for other reasons. Those reasons are not being made public because of privacy policies, she said.
“In fact no student has been disciplined or suspended or kept off a bus for wearing any T-shirt that says Border Patrol,” she said.
She said the issue has generated animosity towards the school and its staff.
“We have some staff members who are very fearful because some of the emails that have been received are pretty threatening,” she said.
She also said Dakota Ridge is restricting certain people who have been deemed threatening from being allowed on the campus.
“We will not let the educational process be disrupted,” she said.
The district says students do have freedom of speech to a certain extent with their T-shirts. However, if a student were being disruptive towards the educational process officials would take action. They said this case is not at that stage at this point.