A North Carolina principal who forced a student to leave a football game over his decision to wear a President Donald Trump jersey is no longer in her position, WRAL-TV reported.
Just a week after then-Principal Cindy Gordon forced Matthew Collins out of the game at Harnett Central High School in Angier on Oct. 5, a new principal has been moved into her place, according to a school district news release.
According to WRAL, the school had asked students to wear patriotic gear during the game against Lee County High School. Collins chose a jersey with USA across the front and the stars-and-stripes on the sleeves.
That wouldn’t be that controversial, except for the fact it had Trump’s name on the back along with “45” as the number. (For those of you with a Common Core civics education, Trump is the 45th president.)
A father tells me his son was asked by the school principal to remove this jersey during a patriotic-themed football game after people complained. Dad, a registered Democrat, says his son complied but felt humiliated. @HarnettCoSchool says it supports expression not disruptions pic.twitter.com/W9U9v2vBLF
— Tim Pulliam (@TimABC11) October 10, 2018
“He was not grandstanding,” Michael Collins, Matthew’s father, said, according to WRAL. “He was just minding his own business.”
A student minding his own business with a Trump uniform on, apparently, was just too much winning for some in the stands to bear. Gordon told Collins that his jersey was offending other people and that he had the choice of taking it off or leaving.
Collins eventually decided to leave the grounds of Harnett Central High School — and it would put into motion a set of events that would have Gordon leaving the principal’s office, as well.
As WTVD-TV reported, the school district said that the principal was acting against district policy.
“While we cannot comment on specific student issues, the Harnett County Schools supports and affirms students’ rights to express themselves,” district spokeswoman Natalie Ferrell said last week. “As long as the expression does not disrupt, and is not reasonably expected to disrupt, the educational mission of the school system, these rights include wearing clothing expressing political messages or supporting political candidates.”
Michael Collins, a registered Democrat, told reporters he wasn’t going to take legal action over the move. However, he says several school board members reached out to him and said they’d rectify the situation.
“We’re not promoting Donald Trump,” Collins said, according to WTVD. “He’s our president. Again, you’ve got to respect your president. I can assure you that there was nothing about this shirt that was disruptive. I think we should stand up for our rights.”
In the news release, Harnett County Schools announced a primary school principal would be moving up to take Gordon’s place.
“After completing its review of an event that took place at the football game at Harnett Central High School on Friday, October 5, the school district is announcing several personnel changes,” the release read.
“Effective immediately, Ms. Catherine Jones, current principal at Harnett Primary, will serve as principal at Harnett Central High School. Ms. Calvetta Dunkins, who is currently an assistant principal at Dunn Middle School, will serve as interim principal at Harnett Primary School. Harnett County Schools leadership appreciates all the patience of families, students, and the community during this process.”
There wasn’t any word on what will end up happening to Gordon or whether her employment status has been terminated.
What we do know is that she’s gone from the principal’s office and that her highly inappropriate — and almost certainly unconstitutional — decision to ask a student to leave a football game for supporting a politician is to blame.
I’d also wager she has a lot of time, as she polishes up her resume, to do some reading. I’d personally suggest starting with Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District decision. It may not be a page-turner, but it could end up saving Gordon from another high-profile removal like this.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.