Thursday, September 13, 2012

Beware of 5-year-olds in Michigan jerseys!

By: Scott Stein, Vice President of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

I can cite many examples where common sense has apparently been tossed out the window, often in favor of the “rules are rules” approach. The most recent incident to come to my attention is out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Several years ago the OKC School Board adopted a new dress code, partly in response to students wearing gang colors to school. Included in the policy was a ban on all professional and collegiate sports apparel, with the exception of Oklahoma-related college items. 

Apparently no one thought much of the team apparel ban until a kindergartner – yes, a five-year-old boy – showed up at the beginning of this school year wearing a Michigan Wolverines t-shirt. Turns out the family had recently moved to OKC and wasn’t aware of the sports apparel prohibition.   

How did school officials respond? They obviously didn’t want the student to engage in any gang activities, or recruit fellow kindergartners, and moved swiftly by telling him to go behind a tree and turn his shirt inside out. (Now, one could argue that that should be a standard request for anyone wearing Michigan clothing, but that’s a whole different discussion for those of us in Badger country.)

When this young lad’s parents heard what happened they decided to take a stand that garnered national attention. Just this week the school superintendent announced that the ban would be lifted for 60 days while a special committee is formed to take a look at the issue of gang apparel and team logos. 

Reports are that the school district’s dress code was last updated in 2005 in cooperation with the Oklahoma City Police Department as a response to national concerns about gangs using clothing from sports teams as membership identification.

One has to wonder what information the school district and police had in 2005 that led to this policy. Then to have a five-year-old singled out like this – by those who are teaching children – really has me scratching my head.

What do you think? Is common sense taking a backseat to the “rules are rules” approach? 

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