Ardmore, OK resident Jordan Herbert says her son Ben Stapleton was racially targeted by school administration for wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and unjustly punished. On April 30, the principal of Charles Evans Elementary School principal told Ben to invert his BLM shirt before he could continue with the day, as reported by according to local news station KXII. “They pulled me out of P.E.,” Ben relayed, “and told me to put my shirt inside out and then I started playing.”
When Herbert contacted the school on the following Monday about what happened with her son, she says Ardmore Superintendent Kim Holland informed her Ben would face no future disciplinary action if declined turning his shirt inside out again. “Y’all know he knows nothing about politics or his rights, so y’all make him turn it inside out because you don’t like it,” Herbert said. The Oklahoma mom then sent all three of her sons to school in Black Lives Matter shirts the very next day.
(Ben Stapleton, left, and his brothers Rodney (middle) and Jaelon (right) wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts to school earlier this week. Ben and his younger brother were both punished, their mom said. COURTESY OF JORDAN HERBERT)
However, Ben and his 5-year-old brother Rodney were removed from their classes and made to spend the day in the principal’s office and caused Ben to eat lunch separate from other students and miss his weekly tutoring session.
“Whenever they called I informed them to get in touched with their superintendent because he told me the day before nothing can be done to my kids when they have those shirts on,” said Herbert. “They say no disciplinary action was taken, but making them sit in the office missing everything was modern day segregation.
For his part, Superintendent Holland was sympathetic to the situation but ultimately disagreed with Herbert’s choice of classroom attire for her boys. “I understand what she is saying, but school is not the place to have all that,” he said, “y’know political back and forth and upheaval. We’re trying to teach kids things like reading and writing.” The school’s dress code says “shirts and tops with sayings or logos printed on them should be in good taste and school appropriate” but also states “[t]he principal shall make the final decision concerning any question referring to the appropriateness of dress.”
“It’s our interpretation of not creating a disturbance in school,” Holland further explained to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I don’t want my kids wearing MAGA hats or Trump shirts to school either because it just creates, in this emotionally charged environment, anxiety and issues that I don’t want our kids to deal with.”
But other parents in the district have taken to social media in support of Herbert by showing their children wearing Black Lives Matters shirts to school. “My son is 8, he has no idea about politics,” Herbert wrote about the incident on her own Facebook page. “Wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt has NOTHING to do with politics. He’s simply saying his life matters.”