The principal of Epping High School in Epping, New Hampshire, has apologized after telling one of his students to remove her “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat and cover up her Trump t-shirt. The student was wearing the MAGA apparel in support of the president for the school’s “American pride day.”
Epping High School Principal Brian Ernest told student Ciretta Mackenzie to remove her MAGA hat and cover up her t-shirt that read, “Trump — Make America Great Again,” after she arrived at school wearing the MAGA apparel for “American pride day,” according to a report by Boston 25 News.
Mackenzie says that principal Ernest had told her that her clothing was in violation of the school’s dress code policy, and that she had complied with the principal’s request by taking off her hat and borrowing a friend’s sweatshirt to cover up her t-shirt. But later on, the student said that she felt her First Amendment rights were violated.
“People need to understand that it’s okay to have different opinions,” said Mackenzie to Boston 25 News, “I wasn’t upset or mad, I was just kind of surprised, and embarrassed — it’s a shirt, you know, and it only says ‘Trump, Make America Great Again.’”
The student added that there is nothing in the school’s dress code with regards to political apparel.
“If it said no political gear or anything, then I could understand — but it doesn’t say that, so I feel as though I’m obligated to have my own opinion, and other people can have theirs. We don’t have to agree, that’s fine,” said Mackenzie.
The school’s superintendent, Valerie McKenney, told Boston 25 News that two students had been asked to change out of their clothing, adding, “we will take steps to remedy this situation for all parties involved and ensure that this type of situation never happens again in any Epping school.”
On Friday, principal Ernest released a memo to students and community members apologizing for the incident. “I want our students to be free thinkers and be able to express their opinions in a respectful manner,” said Ernest, according to CBS Boston.
“We have begun to draft a plan to move forward to promote civil discourse and diversity in our schools,” added the principal, “In retrospect, I want to fully acknowledge my error in judgment and sincerely apologize if my actions were misinterpreted and offended anyone. That was never my intention.”
The student’s mother said the Mackenzie family is not angry about the incident, as they believe the principal’s apology is sincere.
In February, a California high school refused to allow a teenage girl to wear a MAGA hat, claiming that it violated the school’s dress code policy, despite there being no specification in the dress code about political apparel. In March, several students at an Arizona high school said that they were punished for wearing MAGA clothing for the school’s “USA Day.”
Moreover, a Florida bus aide apologized last month after a school bus surveillance video captured her demanding that a middle school student remove his MAGA hat, and then physically removed the hat from the 14-year-old student’s head when he did not comply with her bizarre demand.