Michael McIntyre, 14, was initially ordered by a teacher to turn the shirt inside out, his father says.
Fourteen-year-old Michael McIntyre can wear his U.S. Marines T-shirt to school after all.
The eighth-grader at Genoa-Kingston Middle School in Genoa, Ill., had been told to remove the T-shirt, which depicts a pair of intersecting rifles under the word "Marines," on Monday by a teacher who believed it violated the school's dress code.
The boy's father, Daniel McIntyre, said the teacher apparently found the depiction of the guns problematic. He told Fox News his son was threatened with suspension before agreeing to the teacher's request to turn the shirt inside out.
McIntyre said his son is "very proud" of the Marines and wears the shirt "with pride."
"He was upset, he couldn't understand it," McIntyre told Fox News. "He couldn't understand why a teacher would make him do that."
The Genoa-Kingston School District said it was all a misunderstanding.
Superintendent Joe Burgess said administrators were not aware of the incident until informed by Fox News.
"Very simply, it's not a violation. It's a very common symbol for the U.S. Marines,” Burgess told the Daily Chronicle of DeKalb, Ill. "Had we had an opportunity to discuss it, we could have straightened out the situation."
Burgess, in an email to MSN News on Wednesday, characterized the incident as "misunderstanding and miscommunication." He said the principal has spoken to both parties in question.
In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, the school district apologized "to anyone offended, specifically anyone who has served or has family that has served in the armed forces."
"Genoa-Kingston Middle School is well known in the community for their support of our military. The students and staff regularly write letters of support to the troops, and hold patriotic ceremonies for Veteran's Day and Patriot's Day. We very much support the armed forces and were disheartened to learn of this matter through the media. The administration and school handbook agree that this shirt is not a violation of the dress code," the statement said. "We also take school safety very earnestly and it needs to be recognized that is a topic that we also take very seriously and support our students and staff in providing a safe environment to learn, teach and work in on a daily basis. We thank everyone for their continued support of our school and our school district."
The school district's dress code bans, among other things, clothing "that causes a substantial disruption in the school environment" or that depicts alcohol, drugs, violence or "offensive language or symbols."
Daniel McIntyre wants the district to tweak the code, saying it's too vague and doesn't explicitly address images of firearms.
"This is not right. This policy that they have in place can obviously be loosely interpreted, so they need to change it," he told Fox News.
Parents, school officials and law enforcement have been particularly concerned about school safety and gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December that left 20 children and six adults dead.
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Michael McIntyre's T-shirt story drew spirited comments from Daily Chronicle readers.
"The point is that the 'guns' on this T-shirt are representative of the symbols of the Marines, not some psycho-nut job from Columbine or Sandy Hook," Terri D. of Kirkland, Ill., wrote. "What's next? The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor?! Hysteria combined with lack of education is never justified."
Kristina T., of DeKalb, Ill., weighed in: "You know, I do understand where the teacher was coming from sorry to say. I do support the Army 100%, my father was Marine. But with all these crazy random shootings in schools these days, she was just trying to protect the school, so to say."
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