EPPING, N.H. - A student in Epping, New Hampshire said she was asked to cover up when she wore a political t-shirt and hat to her school's "patriotic day."
Epping High School freshman, Ciretta Mackenzie, said she was told by the principal that her "Make America Great Again" shirt and hat violated the school's dress code policy.
The freshman chose to wear the "MAGA" gear on Monday, which was "America pride day" as part of the school's spirit month. She said she didn't know it would cause a problem.
Epping High School freshman Ciretta Mackenzie chose to wear her MAGA gear on ‘America Day’ at school. She was asked to cover up her shirt by the principal, she feels she did not violate the dress code policy and believes her rights were violated @boston25 pic.twitter.com/aPTRbjXsuY— Julie Leonardi (@JulieLeonardiTV) April 12, 2019
"It’s just a shirt, and it only says Trump make America great again, it doesn’t say anything like build a wall, so I don’t get how it could be offensive, how it could be disrespectful," she said.
Ciretta said she borrowed a friend's sweatshirt and took off the hat, but feels like her First Amendment rights were violated.
According to Ciretta, there isn't anything regarding political clothing in the student dress code.
"If it said no political gear, I could understand why it was dress coded but it didn’t say that, so I feel like I’m obligated to have my own opinion and other people can have theirs," she said. "We don’t have to agree, that’s fine."
Her father believes political opinions should be allowed and openly discussed in the school setting.
"We don’t want politics to be totally removed from school, it needs to be in school...the way they went about it was remove everything, you don’t want that," he said.
Ciretta said she was ashamed after being asked to cover up, and was upset by some comments made by classmates.
"Some kids are making [me] feel like I’m uneducated and a bad kid for believing what I want to believe and that’s not right," said Ciretta.
Epping High School Superintendent told Boston 25 that two students were asked to change what they were wearing.
The incident has been under investigation since Tuesday morning.
The Mackenzie family met with the school principal on Friday to discuss the situation.
In his letter to the Epping school community, Principal Brian Ernest said his team has started to draft a plan to move forward. The plan will work to promote civil discourse and diversity in their schools.
"Since the event of April 8, there has been a multitude of responses, some of which have fact-based information and other responses less factual," Ernest said in the letter. "I have always been respectful and sincere in my approach to promote civil discourse and free speech/expression. I want our students to be free thinkers and be able to express their opinions in a respectful manner."
Following the principal's letter, Superintendent Valerie McKenney, sent a follow-up letter as well.
McKenney said the investigation process included several conversations with Principal Ernest and a meeting with Ciretta and her father.
"The Epping School Board and Epping District’s position is that this event should not ever have taken place, and we are committed to the creation of a school environment that promotes open and free thought and dialogue," McKenney wrote.
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