A West Virginia teen who was arrested and suspended for wearing a National Rifle Association T-shirt to school returned to class Monday wearing the same shirt that got him into trouble.
Jared Marcum, 14, was joined by about 100 other students across Logan County who wore shirts with a similar gun rights theme in a show of support for free speech.
Ben White, the Charleston lawyer representing the Logan eighth-grader, said the Sons of the Second Amendment, a gun rights group, purchased and distributed the shirts.
Jared, a student at Logan Middle School, was arrested and suspended Thursday after he was pulled from a cafeteria line and told to remove or turn his shirt inside-out an order he refused.
“I’m still confused, thoroughly confused,” he told a local TV station. “The school didn’t even make a statement to the news agencies, much less myself.”
School officials told the eighth-grader Monday that his one-day suspension was appropriate because he was being disruptive.
Mr. White said Jared was exercising his right to free speech and did not disrupt anything.
Video evidence in the case, Mr. White said, indicates that the situation in the cafeteria deteriorated when a teacher raised his voice while confronting Jared. Other students jumped up on benches and began chanting Jared’s name.
“I think the disruption came from the teacher,” Mr. White said.
A police officer arrested Jared after he was sent to the school office and again refused to remove the shirt.
Mr. White said Jared was arrested on two charges of disrupting the educational process and obstructing an officer, but predicted those charges would be dropped.
The case has been turned over to the local juvenile prosecutor.
“My sense is that no charges will be imminent,” Mr. White said.
Jared’s stepfather, Allen Larieris, told The Associated Press that the teen was expressing his support for the Second Amendment right to bear arms by wearing the shirt, which he said did not violate the school’s dress code.
Logan County Schools’ dress code, which is posted on the school system’s website, prohibits clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases. Clothing displaying advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco or drug product also is prohibited.