OKC boy scolded for Michigan t-shirt
According to News 9 Oklahoma City, the principal at OKC’s Wilson Elementary school asked 5-year-old kindergartener Cooper Barton to turn his t-shirt inside out last week because it bore the logo of the University of Michigan.
Although the above sentence may seem somewhat silly upon initial reading, the request wasn’t a frivolous request based on rivalries or anything – but rather an actual enforcement of the Oklahoma City Public School District’s dress code.
"The current OKCPS District Dress Code Policy states that clothing bearing names or emblems of all professional and collegiate athletic teams (with the exception of Oklahoma colleges and universities) are prohibited,” Superintendent Karl Springer said in a statement. “In cooperation with the Oklahoma City Police Department Gang Task Force, the policy was approved in 2005 after concerns that nationwide gangs used popular sports clothing to represent individual gangs.”
According to his mother, Shannon Barton, young Cooper was asked to go behind a tree on the playground and turn his shirt inside out.
"They should really worry about academics. It wasn't offensive. He's five," Shannon Barton told News 9.
Superintendent Springer did also say in the statement that the incident has “presented an opportunity for OKCPS administration to review the policy and determine if changes need to be made," and one OKCPS spokeswoman admitted that even the boss himself was somewhat startled by the request.
"When I talked with the Superintendent he absolutely had concerns about it and thinks it might be outdated," said OKCPS Spokeswoman Tierney Tinnin.
As for young Cooper, his slight inconvenience may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the Detroit News’ Michigan football beat writer, Angelique Chernigan, Tweeted Wednesday that UM athletic director Dave Brandon heard about the situation and plans to invite Cooper and his parents up to Ann Arbor for a Wolverines game this season.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES