Originally created 08/25/04

Boy gets detention for patriotic T-shirt

Thirteen-year-old Clarence Darlington III wasn't about to turn his patriotic T-shirt inside-out.

His brother, a soldier in the Army, returned from Iraq on the Fourth of July; his grandfather earned a Purple Heart for wounds in Vietnam; and his grandmother was an Army nurse.

So instead of obeying a teacher's order to hide the American flag logo, the eighth-grader served an hour of detention Tuesday at Spirit Creek Middle School.

"He thought it was unfair for them to want him to bury the flag," said Lynda Darlington, his grandmother and guardian. "He comes from family that has been military. He has a brother that has just gotten back from Iraq. So he told the teacher, 'No, I won't.'

"So he had an hour of detention."

Uniform policies in Richmond County elementary and middle schools allow solid-color T-shirts that are red, white, blue or another color of school choice. They do not allow logos.

"Even though it is an American flag, it is out of uniform," said school board member Andrew Jefferson. "Now, if he wants to pin an American flag lapel on his shirt, that is still obeying the uniform policies."

Mrs. Darlington said Clarence's brother Jesse wore a flag T-shirt to Gracewood Elementary School on Tuesday with no problem.

"I mean they do pledge to the flag, so what's wrong with the flag?" Mrs. Darlington said.

Spirit Creek officials have told Clarence that he will be suspended if he violates the uniform policy again. He was previously warned about a black T-shirt.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.


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