Arizona attorney general looking into pro-Trump high school incident

Mar 6, 2019, 9:49 AM | Updated: 12:14 pm

PHOENIX — The Arizona Attorney General’s Office is looking into an incident with East Valley high school students who claimed they were punished for donning pro-President Donald Trump attire.

Mark Brnovich said his office reached out to the Chandler Unified School District regarding Perry High School students who said they were told to remove clothing and accessories with the Trump slogan, “Make America Great Again,” despite the principal saying the students caused a safety concern.

“We would like to get to the bottom line to see what’s happening,” Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Wednesday.

“Reserving judgment, we just want to make sure that if people are being punished, discipline is being done in an consistent and a fair manner.”

Jennifer Ferris, whose children attend the Gilbert high school, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News Monday that her children were among those who were disciplined Friday.

She said the teenagers were wearing a “MAGA” hat and a sweatshirt and were taking pictures with a pro-Trump flag when they were brought to the office and told to leave campus.

But Principal Dan Serrano said in a letter sent to parents that the students were not “disciplined for expressing their political viewpoints or wearing political attire,” but were penalized for “carrying political signage [during the lunch hour that] caused a disruption and created safety concern.”

Serrano said unidentified students were asked to put away the signage and complied, but unveiled it again after school ended “in a manner that again caused concern for student safety.”

The students also refused to leave campus when asked and refused to provide their names and school identification.

“Our administration has not and will not discipline a student for lawfully exercising their free speech rights,” part of the letter from Serrano read.

“Students may lawfully be held accountable for complying with the district’s lawful policies, administrative regulations and expectations for student conduct set forth in the Student Handbook,” it continued.

A small group of parents and students protested outside of the school on Monday over the incident.

Arizona House Republicans also sent a letter to the attorney general’s office urging an investigation, arguing that the students’ First Amendment rights had been violated.

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Arizona attorney general looking into pro-Trump high school incident