Alabama school board bars 'offensive' clothing

By The Associated Press
08.18.04

WETUMPKA, Ala. — Students in Elmore County can no longer wear T-shirts bearing the Confederate flag, a picture of Malcolm X or any other emblems that could be considered offensive.

The Elmore County Board of Education voted to change its dress code to adhere to its harassment policy, said James Myers, assistant superintendent. The policy defines harassment as anything that distracts and prevents students, teachers or faculty from completing work.

Victoria Gilland, a student at Wetumpka Junior High School, was forced to change after she wore a Dixie Outfitters T-shirt to school because the shirt displayed the Confederate flag. But she doesn’t mind the new dress code.

“I think it’s OK,” she said.

The school board deemed Malcolm X emblems offensive but permits clothes depicting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The county formed a diversity committee to help the school board determine what is offensive and what is not, Myers said.

“They don’t establish policy — the board does that — but they can certainly make recommendations,” he said.

The diversity committee, selected by the board of education, must include one minority representative from each community in Elmore County.

Some members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans attended the Aug. 10 school board meeting because of the dress code.

“We’re still finding out the details. We haven’t come to a conclusion yet,” said Larry Warren, a group member from Tallassee.

Andre Jackson, assistant principal of Wetumpka Intermediate School, said the policy hasn’t caused a stir among parents.

“I have not received any complaints from parents,” Jackson said.