Hinsdale Central student to appeal suspension for T-shirt showing rifle

Student suspensions usually are confidential matters, but one Hinsdale Central High School student decided to go public with his.

Chris Borg, a senior from Hinsdale, told the District 86 School Board Monday he was unfairly suspended for wearing a T-shirt that shows an AK47 rifle.

Not allowing him to wear the shirt, which he purchased last fall at a gun range in Kentucky, infringes on his freedom of speech rights, he said.

Besides, Borg believes the shirt does not violate the district’s dress code policy.

Although the policy prohibits clothing that depicts drugs, alcohol and tobacco, it does not specifically prohibit images of guns. The policy does prohibit “other inappropriate messages.”

Borg, an Eagle Scout, has taken classes in gun safety and markmanship, some of them through the Boy Scouts.

“Guns don’t have to be for killing,” Borg said. “They are tools you can use for shooting targets, hunting or self-defense. This is my hobby and it is recognized as an Olympic sport.”

Borg’s T-shirt also has the website, kentuckyarmoryclub.com, printed on it and the words, “Team AK.”

But, Borg said, Hinsdale Central’s mascot is a devil, which carries a trident. Students are not prohibited from wearing that image because it could be used as a weapon.

He asked the School Board to have the suspension expunged from his record.

Borg said he wore the shirt to school about 10 times, before a hall monitor stopped him on May 8 and sent him to the dean’s office.

Borg said he politely cited the school dress code to the dean, but was told he must take the shirt off and wear something different or go home. He chose to go home.

The school policy states that is the response to students or school personnel whose appearance draws the undue attention of others “by being interpreted by school personnel to be offensive in either the message that is implied or the parts of the body that are revealed.”

The principal is allowed to take appropriate action to correct the situation when a student’s clothing is unsuitable for school wear or causes a disruption or substantial disturbance.

Borg said his shirt did not disrupt or disturb other students. He was stopped at the school entrance on May 8, he said. And no one complained or talked to him about the shirt on the prior days he wore it.

Superintendent Bruce Law said students have a right to appeal a suspension. At the May 12 School Board meeting, Board President Richard Skoda encouraged Borg to follow that process.

Borg said he will appeal.

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