No White House invitation or cause célèbre hashtags erupted over Twitter for the North Texas teen suspended last week after wearing an American flag T-shirt to high school. This happened on the same date, September 14, that Irving freshman Ahmed Mohamed brought to school his homemade suitcase clock.
To much quieter media fanfare, Seagoville High School officials in Dallas ISD punished junior Jaegur Goode for wearing an American flag T-shirt – and no one ever even saw the shirt. The stars and stripes were tucked away under a hoodie the teen sported. An assistant principal asked Goode to lift his sweatshirt which revealed the patriotic U.S. flag with the signature American bald headed eagle emblazoned over Old Glory.
That big reveal landed Goode in one day of In-School Suspension (ISS) for violating the school dress code policy. The decision was then reversed, most likely because the local FOX affiliate (KDFW) intervened alongside Goode’s mother.
According to KDFW-4, Goode, passionate about ROTC, hoped to earn a scholarship through the program. “He wants to go into the military,” his mother Shelly Goode told the TV news outlet. “He wants to help people, and any bad marks doesn’t look good.”
KDFW-4 reported that Seagoville High does not require uniforms, only that students wear solid colors. The only exceptions are for school spirit, college logos or shirts supporting the military. The dress code states: “Students arriving at school OR found to be out of dress code during the school day will be placed in In-School Suspension (ISS) until the end of the day.”
Goode’s mother confronted the assistant principal who stood by the punishment doled out to her son. Shelly Goode did not believe her son broke any rules, telling KDFW-4: “If he was breaking the rules, he would be punished and he would have to honor whatever they give him, but he wasn’t, and I have to stand by him for that.” She also requested an explanation in writing from school officials. Then, the local FOX affiliate began questioning the district about the matter.
The next day, Shelly Goode received a call from the principal, who apologized. He told her that the assistant principal erred, misinterpreting the rule. Students can wear the American flag to school on their clothing. The principal insisted he was off-campus at the time of the incident. He added that the in-school suspension would not go in her son’s disciplinary file. That matters. ISS is a newer convention that can leave a big red flag on a student’s permanent records. Such zero tolerance-based disciplinary policies ding student records, open the door to criminalizing student behavior, and pave a pathway or pipeline where youth move from school-to-prison instead of into college and/or career.
Since the incident, Dallas school district officials confirmed that American flags can be displayed on clothing. Pleased, Goode’s mother told KDFW-4: “The fact that acknowledging it is huge, and the fact that they’re willing to stand by and see mistakes and grow from them, that means a lot.”
Social media chatter picked on Goode over the weekend. One Facebooker responded to a FOX & Friends video. The Facebooker posted what a lot of other people on the thread expressed: “Perhaps a tweet from the White House will go out ‘Cool shirt, kid. Why don’t you come up to the White House and display your patriotism’… well, that probably won’t happen…”
Has not happened yet.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOftheBoxMom.