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Marine T-shirt causes controversy at Genoa-Kingston Middle School

GENOA – Genoa-Kingston Middle School made national news after a teacher told a student to remove a U.S. Marines T-shirt that depicted intersecting rifles across the chest.

Daniel McIntyre said teacher Karen Deverell told his 14-year-old son, Michael, to remove the shirt Monday because she believed it violated the school’s dress code. Superintendent Joe Burgess said administrators were not aware of the incident until informed by Fox News, which McIntyre contacted after his son told him of the situation, late Monday.

Burgess said administrators would have overturned Deverell’s decision had they known about it. He said teachers unsure whether an article of clothing violates the district policy should send the student to the principal, who then makes the final decision.

“Very simply, it’s not a violation. It’s a very common symbol for the U.S. Marines,” Burgess said. “Had we had an opportunity to discuss it, we could have straightened out the situation.”

Daniel McIntyre said he spoke briefly Tuesday morning with principal Brett McPherson, who was disappointed the school was not contacted first about the situation. But McIntyre said the incident had upset him.

“I know my son wouldn’t lie about the incident,” he said. “When my son wears a shirt that says Marines on it, I think they show terrible taste in telling him to cover it up, and they need to use better discretion.”

Burgess said the school district and the middle school fully support the military and do special events for Patriot Day and Veterans Day.

He said students and staff write letters to armed forces and participate in community drives such as the Marines’ Toys for Tots.

Daniel McIntyre said he still hopes to meet with administrators about changes to the district dress code. The code prohibits images of alcohol, drugs, violent behavior and offensive symbols but does not explicitly address images of firearms.

McIntyre said the code is too vague if teachers can misinterpret a shirt supporting the military.

“I have a close relationship with the county Marines and a lot of respect for them, and my son does, too ... they’re like superheroes,” he said. “I really couldn’t tell you what the teacher was thinking.”

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