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TACOMA: School authority doesn’t trump U.S. Constitution

Letter by Donald B. Berg, Tacoma on Jan. 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm with 16 Comments »
January 19, 2011 3:30 pm

I notice that some readers think Grendon Bailie and his father were wrong to challenge the school’s authority. Apparently they don’t know that when the school said you can wear the Seahawks colors but no other football team’s colors, that the school was violating Grendon’s constitutional right to express a different opinion.

About a year ago, this same thing happened when a high school boy chose to wear the Indiana Colts jersey instead of the Saints jersey when his Louisiana school did the exact same thing that Truman school did. The end results: The ACLU sent a letter to the school to wipe his record clean of the incident and both the principal and the student apologized. That was the end of it.

In Grendon’s case, they handled it very well. They didn’t make a scene at the school, they just simply left. But Grendon did get an education. He learned you can challenge authority, and he even gets an autographed picture from one of his favorite football players.

The bottom line: It is always right to challenge authority when you believe it is wrong. Why do you think we have courts?

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. cclngthr says:

    A lot of people don’t see it that way, and view the subject as a rule violation. The rule was wear Seahawk colors, green and blue only. Why only Seahawk colors? Is it also a rule to be a fan of the Seahawk football team? From the type of rule change, I think it was.

  2. Mudwhistle_Lightening says:

    The Steelers beat your butts all those years ago and if the kid had been wearing any other jersey no-one would have said anything. Your crappy football team lost the Superbowl and you’re still sore. I loved watching you choke in Chicago, too. That was funny.

    The Seachokes deserve no respect and are the joke of the NFL and you all take it out on a little boy? What bullies.

    GO STEELERS!!!!!

  3. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Apparently the “Bullying Problem” in the Tacoma School District is more serious than I thought. This case of bullying originated with the school administration.

  4. Googled “Tacoma Steeler jersey” This has gone global.

    I would say the principal has got some unwanted notoriety now – so let’s turn this around.

    As some posters here seem more than glad to give an adult a pass about this farce – who do you think should be more embarrassed: a 13 year old kid getting all this attention (especially from his sports heroes on the Steelers who may yet reach the Super Bowl) – or a paid public servant who created all this attention with a special jersey day pep rally for the “going nowhere Seahawks?

  5. cclngthr says:

    northsc,
    I think the public servant should be more embarrassed than the kid, because the kids actions made the school look extremely foolish by changing a rule to force people to become a fan of a single football team.

    I have had days like that before where kids were allowed to wear Seahawk colors instead of their uniform and the day actually ended up a complete disaster because of the agressive arguing/b**ching by kids and staff over every little thing. Some of these days, nothing gets accomplished, and in my mind, successfully meeting that deadline with kids focusing on school is more important than a stupid football game.

  6. TACOMA: School authority doesn’t trump U.S. Constitution”
    If that’s the case how can they make the students wear uniforms?

  7. ACLU also thinks that the wefare people have the right to use your tax dollars to buy cigarettes, alcohol, have cell phone service, cable tv which you are to require to pay for yourself

  8. LibertyBell says:

    That Individual Right, of Washington Article 1, Section 1, will always confuse the uneducated, Washington Education Association.

    Just like the Seahawks, loosers forever!

  9. live4fish says:

    Interesting how all these people who say the kid broke the rules and thats that. These are the same people complaining about the red light cameras catching them breaking the rules the same way. Why are there so many double standards with these people?

  10. bankerlady says:

    This is becoming more and more like a car wreck that I just can’t make myself look away from.. I am sick of hearing about this! I caught myself at dinner last night discussing this “story” with my husband, and was immediately ashamed that I had let myself be sucked into it! That being said –

    I can see where each side is coming from. Yes, when dissected, the “Seahawks Day” was a bit misguided and did exclude students who were not Seahawks fans. No, that was not fair.

    However, there are certainly better ways to express unhappiness with an unfair rule than to simply ignore the rule and do what ever YOU feel is right. I know that several people have mentioned civil disobediance and all that has been accomplished by this form of protest, but let’s be realistic! An active protest against segregation or war or abuse is a far cry from being p!ssed that you can’t support ‘your’ football team in junior high!

    No parent should tell a child “ignore that rule” just because they don’t agree with it! Go talk to the principal, write a letter, call and complain to the district, these are all reasonable suggestions that would have made the point just as clearly without teaching a child that rules are for others. With all of the positive attention this boy has received (player autographs, etc) he is going to head into the rest of his life thinking that he doesn’t have to do what he’s told – a far cry from how things work in the ‘real world’!

    I had to have a talk with my 7 year old (who had heard this story and was eager to make a statement himself) and explain that this was NOT an appropriate response to a rule that you don’t believe is fair and that there are ALWAYS other options rather than just doing it anyways. I guess that’s one positive, it was a great teaching and learning tool for my family. I am just afraid that too many others will take the wrong message from this situation and use it as an excuse for ‘anything goes’. Shame on everyone (myself included!) for treating this story as anything but what it was – a disobedient child who apparently had the full support of his father for his inappropriate decision to wear the jersey, even after being specifically told not to. I think a time out and a loss of tv priveleges should be in order for both of them!

  11. Thank you bankerlady!

  12. The author of the letter suggests that the Steelers fan wanted to express another opinion. Again, if he’d worn a Seahawks jersey expressing his opinion with a gang sign or a sexual expression, the school would have banned it…AND EVERYBODY WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD AND AGREED WITH THAT DECISION. And NO NEWS STORY.
    http://speakingofeducation.blogspot.com/2011/01/jersey-that-wont-go-away.html

  13. JudasEscargot says:

    Constitution, huh?

    When do the Muslim students get to roll out their prayer rugs?

    Grow up people. This is about rules not football teams.

    To the Steeler fan – I enjoyed every minute of watching all the Steeler fans pay big bucks to travel to Seattle several years back, only to have their posterior handed to them. Do you guys enjoy paying for flights, hotel rooms and food (thanks for the tax revenue) only to lose in Seattle?

    Check the history of my claim.

    As to the Super Bowl, you probably missed that the referees finally fessed up to blowing that game. But as a Steeler fan, you don’t care how you win, do you?

  14. JudasEscargot says:

    November 2, 2003 Pittsburgh Steelers
    Seahawks won 23-16 Seahawks Stadium

    Thanks for spending all that yellow and green money in Seattle.

  15. spotted1 says:

    How humorous that the school clearly states its expectations, the parents and the students ignore it, and the school is to blame for not being open enough. The child learns he can ignore school policy, the parents support it, and the public supports it, and he gets a free jersey out of the deal.

    And you wonder why public education has such issues it has. Look at how the TNT presented this. It did not support the school and the kid is now famous.

  16. SFKemerson says:

    @ TOOCAN – School uniforms have been vetted through the court system and found to be constitutional. Students don’t have a RIGHT to wear whatever they want to a publically funded school. It false under rules of necessity for good order and disipline. Its a real fuzzy area of law subject to a lot of judicial interpretation. If you ever feel the need to lose all your hair and go insane, I suggest studying it indepth.

    @ Liberty Bell – It always makes my day when somebody spells ‘loser’ wrong, when mocking someone. Thank you.

    When I saw the title I thought we finally got to the big issue everyone has missed when reporting this story. Sadly, I was wrong. The issue isn’t that a student’s rights were violated. As a die hard Seahawks fan, who hates the Steelers with every bit of my being, I hate admitting this but the only people having their constitutional rights violated here are the Steelers.

    I know we like to think of the Seahawks as OUR team. But in reality, they are a private, for profit, corporation. The U.S. Constitution prevents a government entity (the Tacoma SD) from promoting one private business (the Seahawks) while prohibiting the same activity for another private business (the Steelers).

    It’s the equivalent of the school district saying you can were Nike shoes but not Adidas or you can drink Coke but not Pepsi. A school can ban all athletic shoes or ban all soda, but can’t selectively chose which brands they like.

    The exception has been sports gear proven to be affiliated with gang activity. Since the district isn’t attempting to make that claim in this case, they basically botched this entire situation.

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