Student's T-shirt Raises Controversy - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Sesser, IL

Student's T-shirt Raises Controversy

Student's T-shirt Raises Controversy
By: Carly O'Keefe

SESSER, Ill. - A Sesser-Valier High School student and his parents disagree with administrators as to what is and is not appropriate school clothing.

Sesser-Valier junior David Allen Clark, Jr. wore a shirt that says "I love my wiener" to school Wednesday.  The shirt depicts a dachshund dog.  Clark said he wore the shirt in honor of his dog "pee-wee" who was hit by a car a few months back.

"I'd had her since I was in first grade.  She died four months ago.  That's the only reason I wore this shirt," said Clark.

Administrators apparently didn't see it that way and asked Clark to change his shirt.  He refused.

Superintendent Jason Henry could not talk about Clark's case specifically, but says the rules forbid students from wearing shirts that say things that may be construed as sexual innuendo.

"Each case is determined on a case-by-case basis.  We review each case our building administrators have the ability to make that judgment call," said Henry.

The Sesser-Valier High School Student Handbook states: "...clothing displaying alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or suggestive or vulgar remarks may not be worn."  Clark doesn't believe his shirt is vulgar or suggestive.

"Just because peoples' minds are in the gutter doesn't mean this shirt is inappropriate, because the intention of the shirt isn't inappropriate," said Clark.

"A school has the right to regulate what students wear in a school building.  We're not interested in violating First Amendment rights or controversy or being confrontational.  We're interested in educating the public about what is and is not societal appropriate," said Henry.

Clark's dad, David Clark, Sr., feels the school has gone too far in limiting what their students can and cannot wear.

"If you wear a naked lady on your shirt, or alcohol or tobacco on your shirt, I can see how that's inappropriate, but this, I can't see it, and if it was, I wouldn't let him wear it to school," said David Clark, Sr.

David Clark, Sr. has consulted an attorney about the issue, but would not comment on whether or not he will be taking action against the school.

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