‘Heightened tensions’ cited in Valley school’s report on ‘MAGA’ incident

Apr 22, 2019, 3:58 PM | Updated: Apr 24, 2019, 12:14 pm
(KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)...
(KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)
(KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX – A spirit week assembly led to “heightened tensions” at an East Valley high school last month, influencing an incident later in the day that prompted an ongoing inquiry by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

That’s according to a 66-page report compiled by legal counsel for the Chandler Unified School District and submitted to the attorney general earlier this month.

The attorney general’s office told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday it was an ongoing matter and declined to provide a response to the district’s report, which was dated April 8.

A March 1 incident at Perry High School in Gilbert garnered national attention after parents said students were targeted by school officials for their “MAGA” — Make America Great Again — attire and flags with messages supporting President Donald Trump.

The school said only one student was disciplined, and it had nothing to do with her political views. The girl was suspended for three days for failing to identify herself to authorities on school grounds.

That incident, according to the redacted report obtained by ABC15, was preceded by events in which pro-Trump students allegedly harassed other students on “Party in the USA” day, when students were encouraged to dress in red, white and blue clothing.

The report, compiled by Cathleen M. Dooley of the law firm Udall Shumway, includes witness statements from seven students and three school officials as well as a copy of the school’s student code of conduct. The sections of the code pertaining to the girl’s punishment were highlighted in bright yellow.

According to the report, several parents complained about what they described as a “Trump rally” at the school, although officials said the assembly wasn’t a political rally.

One parent called after hearing that a group of seniors chanting Trump slogans had surrounded an African-American student.

Officials who investigated said students “had been putting Trump flags in people’s faces” and calling kids “[expletive] liberals.”

One father, who’d recently moved from Chicago, came to the campus and expressed concern that Perry “might not be a good fit for his student” based on what happened after the assembly.

The complaints were investigated by Dean of Students Clint Beauer and Assistant Principal Heather Patterson, who didn’t find grounds to discipline the students allegedly involved in the chants and offensive statements.

Beauer, however, said he’d been “aware of heightened tensions among students after the assembly,” according to the report.

After school, when authorities tried to disperse a group of students wearing Trump attire and taking photos with a Trump flag on school grounds, the students “showed no signs of preparing to leave.”

The student who was later suspended refused to identify herself to three officials: a school resource officer, Patterson and Principal Dan Serrano.

One student’s mother, Jennifer Farris, went to the media and claimed her daughter and others were told to leave because of their pro-Trump gear.

The story spread nationally, Trump supporters protested outside the school, and Arizona House Republicans sent a letter to the attorney general’s office urging an investigation into potential First Amendment rights violations.

The school has maintained that its actions weren’t related to speech.

“No student was disciplined for wearing Trump attire and no students were told to remove any Trump clothing on that day or any other day,” the report said.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Former President Donald Trump, left, and Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers (Getty Images Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Donald Trump endorses Rusty Bowers’ foe in Arizona state Senate race

About a week after Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers testified for the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump endorsed Bowers’ opponent in the upcoming election.
1 day ago
(Twitter Photo/@ArizonaDOT)...

Dust storm moves into Valley ahead of expected overnight thunderstorms

A dust storm was spotted Wednesday afternoon in the southeast Valley ahead of anticipated thunderstorms overnight.
1 day ago
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)...
Danny Shapiro

AG Mark Brnovich says pre-statehood abortion ban is law of the land in Arizona

Attorney General Mark Brnovich released a conclusion Wednesday stating a pre-statehood abortion ban that only allows the procedure when it saves the mother's life is the law of the land in Arizona.
1 day ago
Rob Duggan (Town of Gilbert Photo)...

Town of Gilbert promotes assistant Rob Duggan to fire chief

The town of Gilbert announced Wednesday that Assistant Chief Rob Duggan has been promoted to serve as the next fire chief.
1 day ago
After multiple nights of abortion-rights protests, security fences and barbed wire surround the Ari...
Kevin Stone

Electronic surveillance used in 8 Phoenix abortion protest arrests; court doesn’t find probable cause

Electronic surveillance was involved in eight of the nine arrests state troopers made over the weekend at or near abortion rights protests at the Arizona Capitol, according to court documents.
1 day ago
Follow @ktar923...
Sponsored Content by Arizona Department of Health Services

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.

Sponsored Articles

Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
‘Heightened tensions’ cited in Valley school’s report on ‘MAGA’ incident