The Plains, VA – A group of Virginia middle school students who chose to wear “Make America Great Again” hats during a sanctioned school fundraising event were forced to remove their pro-President Trump hats due to alleged “tensions” between students.
During the recent Marshall Middle School fundraiser, students and parents were asked to pay $1 in exchange for the right to wear a hat to school, WTTG reported.
Three students who participated in the event – 14-year-old Logan Teague, 13-year-old David Moore and their friend Cody – spoke to WTTG about what occurred after they and several of their friends showed up at school wearing their “Make America Great Again” hats on Feb. 27.
The boys said that everything seemed fine until lunchtime, when Marshall Middle School Principal Donna Guzman asked them to come up to the front of the cafeteria, Logan’s father, Joe Teague, told Blue Lives Matter on Monday.
Guzman told the boys to remove their hats, at which point they “politely questioned why,” Joe said.
The principal explained that “someone had been offended” by their headwear, then allegedly told them that “there would be consequences and they would be suspended if they refused” to take them off, according to Joe.
Logan and one other student were sent to the principal’s office after they continued to “politely refuse” Guzman’s directive, he said.
“After sending them to the office, Guzman announced in the lunch room that Spirit Day was canceled and all students needed to remove their hats,” Joe told Blue Lives Matter. “She then went back to the office and made a school-wide announcement, interrupting instructional time, that Spirit Day was canceled and all hats had to be removed.”
According to school officials, the event was abruptly ended due to “tensions between students,” WTTG reported.
According to WTTG, a source with knowledge of the incident claimed that some members of the MAGA-hat wearing group began bullying their Latino classmates and told them to “go back to your country.”
“It’s not true,” Moore told the news outlet.
“I think is was just excuses made because they wanted to see us get in trouble because we were wearing Trump hats,” Logan Teague added.
The district noted that none of the students were disciplined despite the allegations of misbehavior.
The boys said that they chose to wear their MAGA gear to show their support for President Trump.
“I’m supporting our president,” Moore told WTTG. “If that were to be a George Washington hat, I’m supporting that president. She wouldn’t tell us to take that off.”
Logan’s mother went to the school and met with Guzman and Kylie Henson, the assistant principal, who advised her that Spirit Day had been cancelled because “someone” was “offended by the hats” the boys were wearing, Joe told Blue Lives Matter.
“My wife voiced her opinion how she felt it was not fair and they should have dealt with the offended student individually,” he noted. “At no time did Guzman say anything about anyone being bullied.”
The boys ultimately opted to leave school early that day with the support of their parents.
“I want my son, as well other students, to be able to go to that school and support President Trump, the President of the United States,” Joe Teague told WTTG. “There’s no reason they should not be able to do that.”
“I just think that whenever President Trump comes into the equation, it just explodes,” he added. “It triggers them somehow.”
Joe denied allegations that the boys were bullying any of their peers.
“No bullying. My son didn’t say one word to anybody,” he said. “He wore his hat in support of the President of the United States. I felt that they were just targeted.”
Joe told Blue Lives Matter that he has also encouraged the school to investigate the bullying allegations, but that they have refused.
“If someone truly was bullied then why aren’t they looking into it?” he asked. “If what the school says about the hats causing a substantial disruption is true then why did they target the students wearing the MAGA and Trump hats. Why not just cancel spirit day and not target/single out students?”
He also pointed out that the school is equipped with cameras, but said that school officials claimed they were not high-quality enough to capture the interactions they would have been looking for.
The reason Guzman gave parents regarding why the fundraiser was canceled doesn’t jive with the reason that was provided to the school superintendent, he added.
“Parents would like to know why the principal is telling the parents it was one person that was offended but telling [Fauquier County Public Schools Superintendent David Jeck]…something different,” Joe explained. “They refuse to look at their surveillance cameras, claiming that they don’t work good and do not catch everything.”
Joe said that teachers have also been weighing in on the MAGA hat issue in their classrooms, to include some instructors that have accused anyone who supports Trump of being a “racist.”
“Teachers are making negative comments, some saying that all Trump supporters are racist, and that we are committing borderline child abuse by forcing our Republican views and Trump on our children,” he told Blue Lives Matter.
According to Joe, Jeck ultimately held a staff meeting to review policy regarding teachers sharing their personal opinions in the classroom.
“I support Mrs. Guzman’s decision to end the event early based on the feedback she was receiving related to disruption/bullying,” Jeck told him in an email. “Mrs. Guzman has stated that she could have handled the situation better, but her instincts were spot on, in my opinion. This was not an ideological or philosophical issue…it is a policy issue. Clothing or ‘speech’ that causes a disruption are grounds for Mrs. Guzman’s response according to FCPS [school board] policy.”
“Having said that…we will be making political speech and partisanship the centerpiece of our next principals’ meeting,” Jeck continued. “The message will be simple. Schools are to be neutral when it comes to political speech, campaigning, promoting a candidate or controversial political issue, etc.”
Joe said that school officials need to acknowledge that the situation was mishandled and apologize for what occurred.
“The school is wanting it to go away, and I want them to acknowledge that they screwed it up big-time and targeted these students big-time,” he told Blue Lives Matter. “This entire incident spiraled out of control with the way it was handled.”