Oklahoma City Public Schools officials will review the district dress code policy after a kindergartner was asked to turn his University of Michigan T-shirt inside out.
Kindergartner Cooper Barton, 5, turned his shirt inside out behind a tree on the playground after a teacher at Wilson Elementary noticed he was breaking the district dress code policy.
“If a child is not in compliance with the dress code, they are given two options: to turn their shirt inside out or to wear a Wilson Wise Wolves T-shirt that is available in the school office,” Principal Kirk Wilson said in a statement.
Wearing clothing that depicts athletic teams — except for Oklahoma colleges and universities — is against the district dress code, according to the district's 2012-13 student-parent handbook.
“As when any policy is questioned, OKCPS administration will review the policy to determine if changes need to be made,” Superintendent Karl Springer said in a statement.
Policy updated in 2005
The district dress code was last updated in 2005 in cooperation with the Oklahoma City Police Department Gang Task Force, Springer said.
The update was done as a response to national concerns about gangs using clothing from sports teams as membership identification.
Cooper's father, Chris Barton, said he and his wife aren't upset with the school — just the policy.
“We were kind of put off by it,” Barton said. “Frankly, when they asked Cooper to turn his shirt inside out, we were irritated — a little more than irritated. He was a little bit embarrassed. I don't think he really understood. ...
“We explained to him that these are the rules, and we have to follow the rules. But we don't think that this rule is correct.”
Barton and his wife are lifelong University of Michigan supporters.
He said it's unfair for clothing from Oklahoma schools to be allowed and others to be banned.
“We're not OU fans,” he said.
“We're Michigan fans.”
Barton said the school principal has been helpful and gracious and that he doesn't begrudge officials for following the rules.
The Bartons have two sons who go to Wilson Elementary, and they like the school.
But he and his wife plan to pursue the issue with the school board, he said.
“I understand there are gang colors,” he said. “I understand that. But there's got to be some sensibility about a 5-year-old wearing a Big House T-shirt. I'm pretty sure he's not a gangbanger.”