DeKalb Schools – Free Speech….For Some?

DeKalb Schools might have a consistency problem with the First Amendment.

Back in October, the girls at Cedar Grove High School in the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) took a knee before their playoff game. In a statement issued by DeKalb Schools, “If students should elect to express their free speech rights, we want to create and provide a safe space to do so. The goal is not to interfere with the students’ constitutional right to freedom of speech.”
I advocate for the First Amendment across the board. I hope the freedom of students to express themselves will be vigilantly defended across the political, religious, etc … spectrums.

CNN is a popular destination for school field trips across the state. Every year the 7th grade at Peachtree Charter Middle School tours the CNN studios.
This year when the CNN tour was announced, my 7th grade son Jaxon asked me if he could purchase an FNN-Fake News Network shirt to wear for his field trip. As an advocate for the First Amendment, I agreed to his request. He picked out the shirt he wanted and and ordered it from Amazon. His mother cautioned him that he might cause a controversy and needed to be prepared for that. He was fully aware of the implications of his decision and made the affirmative choice to wear his shirt.
Nancy took his picture this morning as he left for school. We received a phone call from the principal at the middle school this morning informing us that he was forced to change his shirt.
I’m disappointed by the hypocrisy of this decision. Some students are celebrated when they make a controversial display during the National Anthem. My student was forced to remove his shirt because someone didn’t like it. I defend speech and expression, even if I disagree, or it makes me uncomfortable.
Says commenter Max Baerman, “[This] could have been a great teachable moment about Yellow Journalism and the scathing and at times libelous editorials”
This experience is teaching my son an interesting lesson.

179 responses to “DeKalb Schools – Free Speech….For Some?

  1. Love the shirt! Only certain speech, by a protected class, is protected in DeKalb. Your son perhaps could get away with ordering chocolate boy shorts from You will recall DeKalb pays Hank to inspire our children. Not sure if ole Hank handed out the rhinestone booty shorts when speaking to DeKalb students, my kid didn’t make it to that event.

  2. Bill Armstrong

    If the facts presented here are accurate & I’ll take them at face value – then whoever made this decision was 100% wrong. While I might not agree with the commentary/sentiment in the shirt – it’s still pretty clever & unless there was some dress code required ahead of time – then Jaxon was fully within his rights to wear it. Case closed.
    I do really want to know who made the decision. please fill us in.

  3. Bill Armstrong

    BTW: There is a way to have both “sides” in these debates avoid being labeled hypocrites, and charging the other side as well: both were right in expressing themselves the way they did. If this “liberal” can say the shirt is OK – then “conservatives” should be able to say the kneelers were OK. They both were.
    And this applies to both sides on a daily basis on the news, Fox & CNN. GOP & Dems. Whoever. On just about everything. Drives me crazy.

  4. Incredible! I am disgusted by this censorship and the inability of some to allow opposing views to be expressed. Why does Dekalb choose to fight this battle. Considering CNN had a scandal with the substantiation of a story, one could argue it was not a political statement. It could have been a great teachable moment about Yellow Journalism and the scathing and at times libelous editorials under false names at the birth of our nation. To all that think I am a right winger, I generally prefer CNN to Fox. A sad day for free speech.

  5. Kneeling during the National Anthem is like burning the flag. While I find it disrespectful and shameful, I advocate for your right to do it.
    Yes …. What an excellent teachable moment this could have been.

  6. I retired from the USAF Reserve where I took an oath to protect the Constitution. While it disappoints me to see an individual or group kneel for the anthem I accepted the responsibility for their right to do so. Your son and others deserve equal rights as well. I hope that all this will lead to a greater understanding of what the document stands for and provides us as citizens. We continue to form a “more perfect union” and sometimes will take steps backwards in order to advance the cause. I hope this is the case currently.

  7. I just want to shake that young man’s hand.

  8. Bill Armstrong

    Stan. Who made the decision? How far up the chain of command?
    And please make sure Jaxon knows that this liberal (really more of a 1st Amendment virtual absolutist) & devoted CNN viewer admires his spirit. Really – this can still be a teachable moment – a more “real-world” one at that.

  9. Adrienne Duncan

    Do you believe this was hypocrisy in the form of one hand in DeKalb not knowing what the other was doing? Or was Jax singled out so someone could stick their thumb in your/Nancy’s eye?
    Disappointed but not surprised. Even our own city council manages to talk out of both sides of their mouths at times.

  10. The principal of PCMS called this morning to apprise us of the situation. We explained the First Amendment to him. He said he would get back to us, but we haven’t heard anything.

  11. Libel is not protected by the 1st amendment, but scoring cheap political points using your kid as a prop sure is.

  12. Maybe he could wear the shirt to school on another day to let folks know how he feels? Wearing it on a field trip feels a bit like making fun of your host in his own house.

  13. Tim DeBardelaben

    First I support everybody’s first amendment rights to peacefully protest. That being said I did not support the protest that Cedar Grove students did and I especially did not support the Coaches who joined that protest while taking a government paycheck. As far as your son wearing a fake news network on a field trip to CNN think to try and compare that to Cedars Grove protest to your son’s t-shirt is like comparing the New York terrorist attack to the atrocity in Texas. Two different situations. For you to allow your son to wear that t-shirt was wrong as a parent. CNN invited those students into their business as guest. It costs their business both time and money to host the students. To have any student to show up and insult them in plain and simple terms is rude. You as a parent allowed your son to possibly jeopardize a learning experience for future students. Not to mention what could have been a traumatic experience for your son if CNN had seen his t-shirt and not allowed him in. Did your son do anything wrong? No you and your wife are the one who made the mistake of allowing your personal opinion of CNN to influence your common sense.If you are so against CNN you did not have to allow him to go on field trip there. Do not accept an invitation if you are going to insult the host. Your Mama should have taught you this and that is the lesson you should be teaching your children. Not that they are entitled to do and say anything because of first amendment

  14. TuckerMom, The irony isn’t lost on me when you suggest CNN, a major news network, can’t handle questions from a 12 year old regarding CNN’s integrity.
    There was no invitation. It costs $11/child and $13/adult for admission. Let’s not pretend CNN is giving tours out of the goodness of their heart.
    It was all Jaxon’s idea. We warned him of the potential controversy. I’m here to advocate for his First Amendment right.

  15. Bill Armstrong

    TuckerMom & Tim – if one of my kids wanted to wear one of their many Georgia Bulldog shirts on a field trip tour of Georgia Tech, I’d say “sure, be prepared to be boo’d by some, but maybe not bark back.”
    As for CNN – I bet some people there would find that shirt funny. I know a few CNN people – I’ll ask them.
    Stan, as for the “teachable moment” – imagine this – one of the CNN staffers politely approaching your son & asking him “I’m a professional journalist, I take pride in my work, and strive to be accurate and fair. So I see your shirt, do you mind telling me why you think CNN presents ‘fake news?’ I’d like to hear what an informed and engaged 7th grader has to say about CNN’s approach.” If the exchange was professional & polite, non-confrontational, I’d assume that if your son really picked out the shirt and wanted to wear it because he believes CNN presents fake news based on his own understanding of the world, that you would welcome an opportunity for him to actually engage with someone at CNN. Sort of – “you wear the shirt – you can back it up.”
    In fact I’d like to hear what an informed and engaged 7th grader has to say about CNN’s approach. Perhaps a teacher would too. Maybe a paper or Powerpoint? He could take inspiration from the many side-by side screen shots of the various new channels floating around social media these days.

  16. Yesterday I substituted at Peachtree and a student kneeled during the national anthem, I ignored it. Then during the moment of silence he spoke loudly, laughing at me when I ask him to be silent. He said that he was using his freedom of speech and that I couldn’t do anything to stop him. The whole class erupted In laughter. These are CHILDREN, rude and disrespectful children. I think respect is more important for CHILDREN to learn than that they can use their “freedom of speech” to back up their horrible behavior. Before yesterday, I always said that I loved subbing more, every time I did it.

  17. Bill –
    You are absolutely right about engagement. We had the discussion with Jaxon. I asked him what he would say if asked about the shirt. He’s a 12 year old boy who has his own opinions. His thoughts on the shirt range from the humorous to the serious. He mentioned how ridiculous he thought the “two ice cream scoops” story was. He sees and hears what he thinks are biases in reporting various stories. It is disappointing that a school didn’t use his critique to start a conversation. I can think of lots of robust questions about how we get news, who reports the news, how do people try and shape opinions, how can you validate what people tell you, etc. Unfortunately, adults in positions of power, belittled him rather than engage with him. I am sure this didn’t do anything to help and model constructive dialogue.
    Bill, my son most definitely chose this shirt. He knew exactly what he was doing. He asked for permission to order the shirt. He told me why he wanted it. It reflected his view and humor. He and his best friend love to discuss Presidential politics. In afternoon carpool, I am usually treated to the witty repartee of these sweet and funny boys talking about how they see the world. They are often over the top with their declarations, ambitious in their goals, and unrelentingly funny. Most of all, I am reminded that they are 12 and 13.
    As a side note – I think Stan wrote above that tickets were $11. We were charged $25. The class was not “invited” to CNN any more than they are invited to any other field trip location. CNN was not his host. My son was their customer.

  18. Francesca Freeman

    I am never going to vote for either of you again. The violence that the liberals are doing these days against the conservatives is out of control and you never know when one of these liberals will attack. I would not have let my son wear this shirt just for safety reasons. I can’t believe that you would subject your own child to potential harm.

  19. Sorry, not the National Anthem – the Pledge of Allegiance.

  20. Renate – Wow! That is just terrible. With those types of disruptive outbursts, I think it even more important to support students who respectfully, quietly make their points in non-threatening ways. If outbursts are tacitly and explicitly supported, it is difficult for me to see why a simple t-shirt was the subject of such ridicule and scorn.
    On another note….twice this year, my 7th grader was supposed to have a substitute in a class but the class was left unattended for 40 minutes.

  21. Well, I find the t-shirt simply rude. I would never have bought my children something I thought people would find find offensive, they’re CHILDREN. Plus, I think it teeters on implying a terrible F word – which I find offensive.

  22. Renate
    Sorry to hear of your day as a sub. We have great elem schools with great leaders at each one, and great leadership at DHS. The weak link in this cluster has always been PCMS. The cluster loses so many kids to private school going from 5th to 6th grade. Many come back for 9th.

  23. Bill Armstrong

    Still curious – who (and when & how) made the call that he was “forced to change his shirt” to use Stan’s words. Still the wrong decision regardess but I’m wondering if we we’re talking DeKalb, the school, a teacher, etc.

  24. Francesca – My children have been threatened before without regard to their attire. There was a group a couple years ago that didn’t like one of my positions and so threatened two of my three children specifically. The posted threats on social media. If good people bow or curtail their work due to threats and pressures, we will all be worse off. I will not live in fear nor suggest that my children be afraid. I also do not fear losing a vote by sticking to my principles.

  25. VikingDad, I disagree that PCMS is a weak link. My oldest son went to Kittredge, Chamblee middle and Dunwoody . My second son went to Kittredge, PCMS and is now at Dunwoody. Both children went to the schools that were best for them. My PCMS child thrived there and was happy to be back in the Dunwoody schools. He had great teachers and I know the adminstration works very hard to help children learn to be successful. It is a really hard job when parents are teaching their kids it’s okay to be disrespectful to adults and to use passive aggressive behavior to push buttons. I wish they could bring back the uniform dress code, then this wouldn’t have been an issue. Sometimes parents need guidelines too.

  26. I don’t have a child at PCMS but heard some teams are going to the zoo instead of CNN… and that their fee is partially for bussing. Have experienced having to pay for field trip bus for my kids at other county schools. So it doesn’t seem like CNN is trying to gouge our kids with the fee. And field trips aren’t mandatory are they? JS

  27. Bill – I can give you a little background. I now have spoken with the principal, the teacher, and Jax.
    1) I was called this morning by the principal after Jax was made to remove his shirt. He didn’t have all the facts but wanted to alert me.
    2) After the class was back from the field trip, the principal and the teacher involved called me. The teacher involved said that she told Jax to change his shirt because she thought his shirt said “F-CNN”. I told her that it absolutely did NOT say that. She apologized and said that she now realizes that the shirt has no profanity or suggestion of profanity on it. The principal stated that he should have been made aware of the situation before Jax was made to change his shirt. He apologized for the incident. We discussed how the shirt could have provided valuable learning opportunities if Jax and his fellow students could have explored how we get news and how we process it. The teacher agreed.
    3) Once home Jax described the situation a little differently. He stated that after he boarded the bus for the trip, the teacher came onto his bus and called his name to come forward. He did so. He felt that he was spoken to in a harsh tone and told he must change. He was respectful and complied. He was very upset but kept that to himself.
    4) I told Jax that the teacher and principal apologized to me for this incident. I asked if they had apologized to him. He stated that no adult at the school has apologized to him.
    So – that’s the narrative as I understand it.

  28. Renate – Well, good people and good parents can disagree. So, we’ll just have to. The word “fake” was written on the shirt. It said FNN – Fake News Network. That phrase is said so often these days, I’m not sure why anyone would think that it implied anything else. I found the shirt humorous and not at all offensive. There are many things that other parents and children wear, say, believe or advocate with which I do not agree. If you wore a shirt that I disagreed with, even profoundly, I would not see you as rude for wearing it. It’s just you. It’s just an expression. If your child wore a shirt supporting a cause/opinion/statement I found objectionable, I would not say that it is rude or that you made some mistake for allowing it. That type of judgement is social bullying and results in deep divisions that fester below the surface without promoting any real dialogue or reconciliation. Sadly, we see too much of that.

  29. Tim DeBardelaben

    If your son was not a guest but a customer then you put him in even a worse position. CNN could have a policy against allow that material on their property. As a good Republican I am sure that you believe that a business owner has a right to refuse service to a patron they believe will cause trouble on their property. What would it been like for your son to get there and been told he was not allowed to take tour or even be on the property? How many people would have been inconvenienced because you allowed a 12 year old to claim he had first amendment right. Children only have rights given to them by their parents. Hopefully parents can make mature decision on what is right.

  30. Tim – respectfully disagree. Do you really believe that a major media company would refuse to let a child in because of a humorous t-shirt? Goodness me! If a major media corporation will toss out a 12 year old student rather than engage him, as Bill suggested, we are worse off than I thought. The thought that Jax, my slender, gentle, albeit opinionated boy, would cause trouble is preposterous. He wasn’t the Captain of the Safety Patrol for nothing! And the irony of a media outlet threatened by an opinion doesn’t escape me. If that had happened no one would have been inconvenience. There he would wait until I picked him up. Going down these rabbit holes isn’t productive. I am disappointed that you see expressions that you don’t agree with as inconvenient and intolerable if it is from a child. Children have rights and privileges beyond what their parents bestow. As discussed in the Declaration of Independence, “We are endowed by Our Creator with certain, unalienable rights…”. My children are not given rights by any man, these rights are natural rights. I am proud of my child. I am thankful that the adults at the school realized their mistake and apologized to me. They should apologize to him. Now, I think I’ll go order Jax some more shirts.

  31. Funny how an adult gets upset over a FakeNewsShirt. I’d be more upset at the lack of respect shown to the sub teacher.

  32. Tim DeBardelaben

    Do I think your child would cause problems? No I do not. Do I think a large corporation might have a written policy on what is allowed on their property? Yes I do. If they have a written policy on it they will enforce it uniformly . As often as they have protesters there I am sure their lawyers have told them the importance of always following their policy. Think what you think is a joke is just disrespectful to go to a business with a shirt on calling them a liar. Manners and respect need to be taught to children not what there rights will be as an adult. All they will be is another teenager who feels entitled to do as they please. Your child may not but what lesson is he teaching to the other children about respect and manners???

  33. Anyone else notice Stan edited his orig post to remove a not so tolerant comment about the cheerleaders taking a knee?

  34. I don’t follow. I’ve posted every comment. Let me know if something gets caught up in the spam filter.

  35. I like you Jester people and usually agree with you all, but agree with Tim on this one. Free speech is one thing. Disrespect is another. Wear the shirt to school, or Publix or to church or whatever, but to go to CNN and mock them? Nope. I’d have asked him to change shirts or stay at school and refund him his money.
    Let’s not start confusing political correctness with polite behavior. If you don’t like CNN, don’t go on the trip.

  36. Margaret Barry

    There is no conspiracy here, just a pot being stirred. This teacher was obviously trying to protect her student and keep the peace on a very stressful field trip day. Teachers deserve more grace and empathy than this.

  37. It feels as though you used your child to make a statement . As a mother , those types of decisions are left up to me, not my child . As was stated above, respect and manners should be taught. It’s difficult to imagine a child disrespecting an entire profession when he couldn’t possibly know all that’s involved with putting together a story. It’s clear he’s an opinionated young man, but it’s naive to believe that many of his opinions at this age aren’t influenced by his parents . There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s a point that should be made. Your updates will continue to inform me, but we’’ll skip the politics. Respectfully

  38. Sounds to me like it’s personal policy in effect, here ,and not necessarily a school policty. You might find out who demanded he change his shirt. That will say a lot as to what is really taking place.

  39. not to be named

    Rather than bash liberals, and play the blame game why not look at the bigger picture. Its not the Dekalb school systems choice rather the principal who chose to make your son change shirts. If you want to talk about who is being hypocritical don’t target everyone, because not everyone was involved in making the choice.

  40. Much of the commentary here travels a circular path between the ludicrous and the pathetic. Apparently, wearing a shirt that pokes fun a news organization is not only far more disrespectful, but far more offensive to non-involved bystanders than blatantly disrespecting our national anthem and what it represents. It’s also naive to suggest that a 12-year-old can’t or won’t form his or her opinions. Certainly, parental influence is a factor, but as often as not, it pushes a child away from, rather than towards a parent’s beliefs or political philosophy. The essence of the conversation here is that it has become widely acceptable to disrespect our national anthem, but unacceptable to express an opinion that doesn’t fit neatly in the box of political correctness.

  41. When we have taken Field Trips we send home the permission slip ahead of time.
    Depending on the nature of the trip, there are times that we have a dress code.
    We explain the dress code and explain the reasons why it should apply.
    Perhaps this will be a teachable moment for all and dress requirements will be clearly addresses before the trip.

  42. When we have taken Field Trips we send home the permission slip ahead of time.
    Depending on the nature of the trip, there are times that we have a dress code.
    We explain the dress code and explain the reasons why it should apply.
    Perhaps this will be a teachable moment for all and dress requirements will be clearly addressed before the trip.

  43. Tim – we’ll have to agree to disagree. My children are respectful and have manners. It is not my responsibility nor my children’s to teach others respect and manners by dressing according to your standards. My child’s shirt represented his belief and was not disruptive. My son’s t-shirt was like wearing a GA Tech t-shirt on a tour of UGA or a Chick-fil-A shirt while ordering at Wendy’s. What’s more, CNN is a media company. It seems that this delicate media flower with their millions of dollars is more sensitive and necessary of protection that my 12 year old son. There was no guideline provided regarding attire acceptable for the field trip. Tim, if you can find where CNN refuses to take money for a tour based on the t-shirt the customer is wearing, please let me know. I have yet to find it. Rather, CNN appears to eagerly take money for a variety of tour options. Until you can find something, please stop talking about how CNN might feel about a 12 year old’s t-shirt. It’s beneath you, petty, and not based on facts.
    Edugator – when people disagree with free speech it is often called “disrespecful”. When we agree it’s celebrated. The school district specifically supported the free speech of students kneeling during the National Anthem. I find that “disrespectful” but you didn’t see me commenting. I simply think that my child should have been left allow no matter anyone’s thought about his shirt. We wouldn’t be having this discussion if he was simply left alone. And apparently, the school thought they were wrong because they called and apologized to me.
    Margaret – my child deserves for grace and empathy than this. He is, after all, 12.
    Paula – you no nothing about my son and his beliefs. You don’t know how he came to formulate them or why. I share some of his beliefs and agree with some of his methods. I disagree with others. I respect him. I dialogue with him. We argue. We discuss. We debate. I love him dearly. You should underestimate his sophistication. You shouldn’t project your feelings and thoughts about his parents on to him. I am proud of his independence and determination. He is his own person.
    Catryna and Not to be named – please read the comments. I have stated, a teacher told him to remove his shirt. After the field trip the teacher and principal called to apologize to me and admitted that he was incorrectly made to remove his shirt.
    Dave – I couldn’t agree more. It’s really fascinating.
    Joy – my child broke no dress code. The school apologized.

  44. Nancy, you keep late hours. Definitely going to agree to disagree and let it go.
    But I will add a dress component to my upcoming field trip to CNN!

  45. Tim DeBardelaben

    Nancy, you are right that we need to agree to disagree on this subject. Obviously if you think that wearing a t-shirt showing support for one organization is the same as wearing a t-shirt that is critical of the organization where you are going, then that is something that we definitely disagree on. As far as CNN has a policy you are right, I do not know that for a fact. As far as your son teaching other children goes. We will definitely have to disagree on this subject. Children learn from the children around them. That is why parents should pay attention to who their children hang around. Some kids are bad influence and some kids are good influence and kids do learn from their peers. Think all parents should strive to make their children to be considered a good influence. We just disagree on whether wearing this T-shirt was setting a good example. I think it was rude to wear a t-shirt insulting CNN while taking the tour. You want to make it a first amendment issue.

  46. Bill Armstrong

    I’m confused – as a former male teen I always thought one of the main purposes of many t-shirts is to offend adults. Was to me anyway. I’m jealous of what kids can buy these days in the way of t-shirts. I thought my Ozzy Osborne shirts were “shocking” – now they’re just nostalgic. I’ve had to elevate my game – get my own Slipknot t-shirt when my 14 yr old son gets one.

  47. Let’s be honest, the Jester’s son wanted attention (as many 12 yo’s do) and the Jesters wanted him to get that attention (purchasing the tshirt, allowing him to wear it, and then posting their outrage in their blog). That’s cool… but to think everyone following the blog was going to comment in favor of their decision is silly (blogger’s replies are getting defensive). The decision involves a child, was political, provocative, and disruptive. Wearing that shirt to CNN is nothing akin to wearing a GA shirt to Tech/McD shirt to Wendy’s. It’s like weaing a “Tech Sucks” shirt to Tech or a “Meat is Murder” shirt to Wendy’s corporate. Totally within one’s right… totally support your doing it… don’t support your outrage in getting the attention you asked for (albeit not the type of attention you sought).

  48. Tim DeBardelaben

    We definitely have to agree to disagree on this subject . I think it was rude and you want to justify it as your son’s First Amendment Right. We also need to agree to disagree on whether your son is teaching other children bad manners. My opinion is children learn from other children. That is why in my opinion all parents should know who their children’s friends are, some are good influences and some are not. I will always wonder if the school would have apologized to any other parents for their action. Other parents are not County Commissioner and member of the BOE.

  49. I was a chaperone on the trip and can confirm the facts the principal and teacher relayed in their phone call. The buses were ready to roll when Teacher 1 came onto our bus and frantically told Teacher 2, Teacher 3, and me there was a child on the trip wearing an F-CNN shirt. A child from our bus told Teacher 2 who it was, and Teacher 2 went to the bus Jaxon was on and had him go into the building and change. Teacher 2 attempted to alert administration and couldn’t get through either directly or by calling the main office number. Again, this is all happening as the buses had already powered up, in fact, the two buses in front of us had already pulled away and had to be called to stop by our bus driver. Unfortunately, a snap judgement needed to be made, and we all were still under the impression that the shirt said F-CNN. It was an unfortunate misunderstanding, not a political statement.

  50. Did anybody look at the shirt or ask Jaxon about it? All these adults running around passing on rumors and nobody is asking questions. Jaxon is yanked off the bus and made to change and nobody thought to confirm anything or ask any questions. Is this how issues are typically handled at PCMS?
    If a student is ever wearing clothes with profanity, that would obviously be unacceptable. I would hope somebody would explain that directly to the student.

  51. Busses rolling; field trip on a tight schedule; 100’s of kids going off campus, their safety in the hands of teachers/chaperones… not exactly a “typical” situation. Distraction achieved.

  52. Question – How many said teachers and chaperones were on Jaxon’s bus ride to CNN? Why didn’t any adults take a minute on the bus ride to CNN yo explain what happened? If they thought he had profanity on his shirt, why not ask him on the trip down there about his thoughts and tell him why profanity isn’t acceptable?

  53. Maybe because the trip was not supposed to be about him?

  54. If you’re in a hole, stop digging. Allow me to take your shovel.

  55. The trip and the school are all about the adults. We know. I’m concerned about the literacy skills involved in getting this so wrong. Then again, maybe they read the shirt just fine and are now doing a CYA maneuver. One of these has to be true. It’s just a matter of what shade of ridiculous will they wear.

  56. FNN shirts and TeamPosse PornHub shirts will be on sale Monday in cafeteria.
    Proceeds to benefit the butt-hurt libs.

  57. I can only speak about our bus, but believe they were all the same – two teachers and one chaperone. Given the logo on the shirt was such an exact copy of the CNN logo, it is not beyond reason that the teacher registered F-CNN when they looked at, even though the C was not there. Again, this all happened under the urgency of leaving to make it to the CNN center in time for our first group’s timed tickets.

  58. Worried that people grading children on timed tests themselves can’t recognize letters effectively enough when they were dealing with time pressure.

  59. PatriotsInNameOnly

    This is item #342, way down on list, of issues at PCMS. All we need now is DunMom to lecture is that Chamblee High addition is bad but DHS addition needs to happen immediately. All that’s missing is the #FakeConcernedParent group Peachtree Gateway to issue a statement. Can we redistrict already?

  60. PatriotsInNameOnly

    PCMS should change mascot from Patriot to pussycats

  61. Judging by some of the comments here, it is now unacceptable to display anything that MIGHT be interpreted as being offensive. Suppose Jaxson’s shirt did say FCNN- the “F” could have stood for “Fake”, “False”, “Funny”, “Fantastic” or any number of other words. Granted, in the current idiom, a lone “F” usually represents a word that is generally considered profane, but accepting a leap to that conclusion sets a disturbing precedent. Of course, the politically correct crowd sees nothing wrong with such a leap- better to destroy freedom of expression than to risk offending someone. Personally, I think Stan, Nancy and Jaxson got it right

  62. Stan & Nancy,
    I was not saying that your son violated the dress code. If there is a certain way that a child should be dressed for a field trip, then that should be explained aheaad of time. It should be part of the persmission slip. For everyone involved, I am sorry that this situation occured.

  63. This is a wicked double-standard.
    And one that is drawn right along racial lines.
    If it were #BLM or #MalcolmX, nothing. Or the kneeling for the anthem, which is terrible.
    But showing that the emperor has no shoes – from a white student – is impermissible.

  64. Fortunately I am no longer part of the weird world of Dekalb County and the Dekalb County School Board. I see several problems here. No matter how you try to explain it, the shirt was at best irritating. Yes, I am a liberal, but I would think it was equally disrespectful for a child to wear a FAUX news shirt to the Fox studio. No, it wasn’t a charming, funny political statement, but a statement that was, as I said, at best irritating. I have many political shirts but I am careful where I wear them. No, Josh, there is a double standard, but not the one you see. If this boy had not been the son of a Board member, do you think the apology would have come so quickly? I don’t think so. And why, if the teacher and principal apologized, is all this being posted? Way to make a Middle School incident wildly political.

  65. I like to think of this as a public discussion on civics. I regularly see the school district apologize for their mistakes.

  66. Back in the day, Liberals stood for (everyone’s) free speech. Today? Bleh!

  67. Tim DeBardelaben

    Back in the day, people taught their children manners and respect and did not blame everybody else when their children got into a little bit of trouble. How many parents go running to the school making excuses everytime the school calls their child out. That is one of the problems with the discipline in schools today. It is never the Childs fault. What’s next children showing up at school school with t-shirt saying “My Teacher is a IDIOT” The precedent has been set. No profanity so that has to be covered under that child’s “Freedom of Speech Right” After all the Dekalb Commissioner and BOE Member son could claim their ” First Amendment Right” Sometimes the the old saying fits …Children should be seen and not heard….

  68. The irony is not lost on me that the comments here perpetuate a false narrative that this is a free speech/ civics lesson issue. I’m a parent volunteer with no agenda who reported factually what happened – the teacher misread the shirt. I did not publish my real name due to the earlier vitriolic comments before all the facts were presented, but will now – Michelle Fincher. Believe me, I’m no fan of the Dekalb County School District in general, but I am a fan of the teachers who work with my children every day. Perhaps the lesson here should be about how to extend grace to a fellow human being who made a mistake and apologized for it.

  69. Hey Michelle. Thanks for volunteering and commenting. Read the original post. I fully intended this to be a conversation about the First Amendment.
    Misreading the shirt is a supposition not a fact. Here are the facts. Whether it said FCNN or FNN, it is not against the student code of conduct. Nobody explained to Jaxon why he was made to change and nobody has apologized to him yet.
    We have great teachers, but this is disconcerting.

  70. Come on Stan! This isn’t the same as a child wearing a black arm band to silently protest the Vietnam War. This is mostly a mildly rude, wise guy gesture to mock CNN. Not appropriate for a field trip to CNN, and not an epic first amendment issue.
    I’d have asked the child to change shirts or stay home. Period. No apology required.

  71. Hello Edugator. Good comment. This is the First Amendment / Civics discussion I thought we would be having.
    The subject matter is arguably not as serious as the Vietnam War or apartheid in South Africa. Assuming that were the case, the First Amendment also applies to mildly rude and wise gestures.
    The fact that you don’t want Jaxon wearing that shirt and saying these things does indeed make this quite an interesting First Amendment issue. Burning the flag, kneeling during the National Anthem and calling CNN fake news are First Amendment issues worthy of discussion.
    I think you’re downplaying the role journalism plays in our lives. Free Journalism is one of the cornerstones of our country. The validity of Fake and Faux news from numerous major news sources is a serious subject.

  72. The concerns about journalism are indeed valid. The absence of objectivity by so many journalists today is appalling on both sides. For real fake news, spend a few minutes listening to talk radio where one sided bias is the rule, not the exception. I just don’t think a MS field trip to a respected Atlanta business is the place to express such concerns, 1st amendment or not.
    The shirt mocks CNN. Their guides aren’t going to engage in a first amendment discussion, they’re going to roll their eyes and tell your son he has a right to his opinion and then move on.
    Kneeling for the pledge is an issue. This really isn’t.

  73. If it wasn’t an “issue” then why are we talking about it? I see a lot of “I support Free Speech, but…” comments. That’s kind of the whole deal – there is no “but”. The whole deal is that what we think of the speech is irrelevant. I see people saying that it was “rude”, etc. Free speech isn’t just Speech we find appropriate, timely, and at a location that we say is acceptable. . It’s also speech we think is silly, stupid, wrong, mean, rude, and at places and times that might make someone uncomfortable. If this young man wanted to wear this shirt on this trip he has every right. It is entirely irrelevant whether we like it. If he wore a Che Guevara shirt, no one would have batted an eye.

  74. The issue here is that this isn’t a 1st amendment issue. It’s a school decision on what is proper for a trip of this nature. I wouldn’t allow a Pepsi shirt on a school-sponsored trip to World of Coke or a Hilary shirt to a Trump speech if it’s a school sponsored event. That there wasn’t a “dress code” notice in the permission slip is just a red herring and another of those minor things that folks look for when finding an excuse for what is basically just tacky behavior.
    The issue is that this is a non-issue.

  75. Where do you stop? I’m guessing that is how censorship begins and the First Amendment ends. If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.

  76. Here. I’m stopping now. Back to what I said two days ago, agree to disagree.
    Thanks for all you do promoting the schools. No one else provides as much information and opportunity for discussion, which we’re free to do. (at least for now!)

  77. I think this is a healthy and constructive convo. Thanks for engaging.

  78. Edugator, the kid didn’t break any rules that the school has. The school can’t decide they have a new rule situationally. It’s not fair. The ground rules need to be made clear for all in advance. If they want to make some rules about political commentary or other commentary that must be subjectively judged, then we can have that discussion. When we have that discussion, it will become abundantly clear that the school district cannot be consistent if, as they have stated, they support and encourage the free speech expression of kneeling athletes while also prohibiting the political commentary of another student. Both are silent and irreverent. Each expression offended someone. It’s a slippery business to try and frame a rule that protects one and prevents another. We can have that discussion. Until that discussion happens and a new rule is in place, the kid had every right to wear that shirt.

  79. I don’t know, Stan. I usually agree with you on all things DeKalb, but I think this is stretching it. My layman’s read of the Code of Conduct leads me to conclude that the school district would have a defensible case in asking the shirt be changed, even if the words were not misinterpreted. It also makes me wonder if the principal referred to it before he called. (DeKalb Schools Student Code of Conduct, p. 75 – especially the last bulleted paragraph):
    The atmosphere of a school must be conducive to learning. A student’s appearance can positively or
    negatively impact the climate of a school. Students must adhere to the School District’s dress code
    requirements. Students who fail to comply with the dress code requirements, as enumerated below, may
    be charged with Offense #25 –Student Dress Code Violation (see page 43-44):
    *Students are expected to follow ALL school rules governing safety in specialized programs that may
    require the wearing of protective clothing, safety glasses, or other similar requirements.
    *Clothing, jewelry, tattoos, piercings or other body ornaments that disrupt the educational process
    or endanger the health or safety of other students, staff or visitors are prohibited.
    *Clothing, insignia, symbols, tattoos, piercings, jewelry, or adornments worn or carried on or about
    a student which promote gangs or the use of controlled substances, drugs, alcohol, or tobacco are
    *The wearing of clothing, tattoos or other adornments which show offensive and/or vulgar words,
    pictures, diagrams, drawings, or includes words or phrases of a violent nature, a disruptive nature,
    a sexual nature, politically/socially controversial words or graphics or words or phrases that are
    derogatory regarding a person’s ethnic background, color, race, national origin, religious belief,
    sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited.
    I would not be surprised if PCMS reinstates a school-specific dress code after this incident.

  80. Which part of this dress code is arguably violated by “Fake News Network” on a shirt?

  81. Tim DeBardelaben

    PCMS , so your argument is even if the T-shirt had said F*** CNN he had the right to wear it into their business. Children do not have the same rights as adults. If they do we need to do away with truancy laws, drinking age limits and statutory rape laws. Children are children and only have the rights that their parents give them. Police can not question a child unless a parent is present. The lesson that was taught here is that he can be a smart ass entitled kid at school and his politically connected parents will make people apologize to him. Great parenting and leadership skills.

  82. Kneeling is political and disruptive. It’s a 1st Amendment expression. The school district made this statement: “If students should elect to express their free speech rights, we want to create and provide a safe space to do so. The goal is not to interfere with the students’ constitutional right to freedom of speech.” This statement was issued in support of the kneeling athletes. This statement informs the interpretation of this code. You cannot simultaneously support on political expression and not another. There are all kinds of shirts that kids were with opinions on them. What if a kid wore a “I am a Dreamer. Defend DACA” shirt? What about one that said “Impeach Trump”? What about “Jesus is my homie”? The school district has had DACA rallies on school campuses. If the school tries to make a rule because one kid had a Fake News Network shirt on, I’m calling BS.

  83. Hi Stan,
    I love you and Nancy, and respect and agree with the desire to have equal free speech on both sides. But I look at this differently. To me, its more a lesson of respectfulness when in a guests house. I’m a rabid UGA fan, but when my daughter went on a field trip to Tech and wanted to wear her UGA shirt I told her no and explained to her that if you are visiting someone’s house (even if that house is a place of business) you do not show disrespect by advertising the competitor. To me, this is the argument against wearing a FNN shirt to CNN. It would be like going to church wearing a shirt that says Jesus is a Myth. Its just incendiary and disrespectful–though it is certainly free speech. I know how respectful you both are and teach your kids the same. However, I think both issues are at play here and you are only addressing one. Agree the school should have not made him change–and he should have the right to wear it at school (assuming the advertising meets dress code–I thought they weren’t allowed to wear such blatant advertising). But I question your wisdom in not teaching him about respect for others–even if you disagree. I’m not going to wear my “Make America Smart Again” shirt to the governor’s mansion. It’s my right to do so, but it’s just rude and disrespectful. I consider this the same and kids should learn the difference. Thanks for all you do for our community. Happy Thanksgiving to you both.

  84. Vulgarity is against the student code of conduct. FNN is not and FCNN is arguably not.
    Does the First Amendment apply to minors?
    The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that minors enjoy some degree of First Amendment protection. Students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate” (Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 1969). As one appellate court (American Amusement Machine Association v. Kendrick 2001) posited so aptly, “[p]eople are unlikely to become well-functioning, independent- minded adults and responsible citizens if they are raised in an intellectual bubble.”

  85. Tim I am not arguing about profanity. There was no profanity on the shirt. It was political satire. The kid wore it. The kid’s parents let him wear it. You don’t agree with that. I don’t agree with a bunch of things parents do. I think some let their girls wear too much makeup. Some kids get over scheduled by their parents. Some kids don’t say sir and ma’am. Some parents feed their kid too much fast food. So what? You can’t enforce your world view. You can’t enforce your standards and methods. Freedom is messy. We are free to offend each other in lots of ways.
    I’ll tell you what I think this taught the kid – it sure is easy to wind up adults. Some will even stoop to calling a child a “smart ass” on a blog. Adults sure are hypocrites. When his parents support him, people that disagree with them say they are bad parents for supporting their child.
    I’ll restate what Insaid earlier. If he has worn a Che Guevara shirt, no one would have said a word. Celebrate a murderer and no one blinks. Make a statement about journalism and people come undone.

  86. Hi Shari. Thanks for commenting. I understand that you find wearing a UGA shirt on Tech Campus disrespectful. Question – what if she wore the UGA shirt (without your knowledge) to a tech football game and was kicked out of the game for wearing said UGA shirt?

  87. Well thanks for asking–first, your comparison is apples to oranges. You knew Jax was wearing the shirt. Second, I’m a big believer in personal accountability/responsibility. If she got kicked out of the game for it, it’s her own fault and she had to be prepared for the hypothetical consequences of her choice. But Jax didn’t get kicked out–though clearly it should have been handled differently/ignored. And I assume you went over with him that it’s possible he would create an issue by wearing it.
    I’m intrigued by this whole string, now that I’ve caught up and read through the comments. Nancy had made an interesting observation in response to someone nameless (why are we all nameless here??) “Edugator – when people disagree with free speech it is often called “disrespecful”. When we agree it’s celebrated. ”
    Can we not say the same about fake news? When we disagree with a story some call it fake. When we agree it’s celebrated. Negative coverage can’t always be fake and vice versa. It just doesn’t work like that. Okay, end rant. Thanks for the GREAT first amendment discussion!!!

  88. Shari Bayer, You wouldn’t be upset about your child getting kicked out of a Georgia Tech event for having on a UGA shirt? That’s interesting.
    Perhaps that’s the problem with many college campuses these days. They do not tolerate ideas and people who are different from them. Many Berkeley students would rather burn their town down than let Ben Shapiro speak.

  89. @ Stan to answer your question… the part about “politically/socially controversial words or graphics…” I would think DeKalb would seize upon those words in defense, especially since it was acknowledged in your post that J was warned it might be controversial.

  90. Tim DeBardelaben

    PCMS, I used that term deliberately to exercise my First Amendment Right. You were the one that said you either support that right or you don’t. I apologize for using that term to make a point but obviously you found it offensive and do not think it should have been used. So you do think there is a line somewhere. Stan, where was dress code violated? Where it said no offensive language. Sure CNN would find that shirt to be offensive. You do not have to use profanity to be offensive.

  91. Tim I support you using the term “smart ass”. You have ever right to call the Jester kid a smart ass. I’m saying I wouldn’t use that term to describe a child, particularly on a blog. I guess it’s just like you wouldn’t allow your kid to wear a Fake News Network shirt. See what happened there? People see some expressions differently than others. Thank goodness I don’t get to tell you what words are acceptable. Thank goodness we don’t get to decide how the Jester dresses.

  92. CNN Chaperone, a couple of points –
    First, Please read the District’s statement on Free Speech rights of students: “If students should elect to express their free speech rights, we want to create and provide a safe space to do so. The goal is not to interfere with the students’ constitutional right to freedom of speech.” Note the “non interference” clause. This statement instructs the interpretation of the Code.
    Second, Are you absolutely sure that no other child on that trip was wearing a shirt that somebody could find socially or politically offensive? There were other political shirts worn that day by students. There are also plenty of offensive shirts (as judged by me) worn on any given day. This kid was the only one called out. The selective and subjective enforcement of what is and isn’t offensive or disrespectful speech is the problem. It’s a slippery slope. What if a child wears a shirt that says: “Defend the 2nd Amendment. The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. “? What about a shirt that say, “No person is illegal. “

  93. Bill Armstrong

    If my Chamblee Middle Schooler’s t-shirt isn’t offensive enough to just barely skirt under the dress code then he’s not trying hard enough. As I’ve said above – for many, that’s what there for. Especially for offending “adults.” Was for me when I was in school. Even now sometimes.
    “Bear Arms” t-shirt – PCMS you just reminded me! Stan – I remember those shirts with the bear – as in dangerous animal – arms on it. Send him to school in one of those if you’ve got any left over.

  94. Bill, You’re funny. Here it is …

  95. @ PCMS parent I don’t disagree with your points. I will reiterate, the reason this shirt was a concern was that it was originally believed to have a vulgar/profane statement. It was a mistake and an apology was given.

  96. Bill Armstrong

    That’s it! They could just modify the paws to just have middle claws sticking up & then you’d have one that covers the 1st Amendment at the same time.
    Gotta say – that shirt – for that race – for that position. Kinda weird.

  97. Stan, your assumption jumped way ahead of what I said, which was that when she actually went on a GT field trip, I told her not to wear her UGA shirt out of respect. Because I believe we should be respectful even when we don’t support something or someone. I think that got lost here. Your sweeping generalization was not at all accurate to what I said or meant. It was almost –wait for it– fake news. 🙂
    I agree wholeheartedly with you about his right to wear the shirt. My issue is that we as a community are quickly losing the ability to disagree without being disagreeable, and this is a great example of that. Wearing a FNN shirt to CNN on a school trip is nothing but an in-your-face jab at the people who work really hard at journalism. People who, whether you agree with them or not, are FIGHTING for the first amendment right of freedom of the press in an era where others want to squelch it. And they are taking the time to show our kids around–and perhaps teach them something outside the classroom for once. It is disrespectful to these employees, and it was being disagreeable. Or perhaps it was simply peaceful protest. Like taking a knee. Either way, the school was wrong and I think we are all in agreement on that.

  98. I said I was done, but wanted to note that I support the school decision and would have done the same thing.

  99. Edugator, which decision? The one where they asked the kid to remove the shirt because they didn’t read it correctly? Or the one where they apologized for their mistake?

  100. The shirt should never have been worn regardless of how the teacher interpreted it. No need to apologize, since the teacher and the school made the correct decision. The shirt a fine choice for any other day, wrong choice for a field trip.