District Superintendent Apologizes for Buckeye Union High School Black Lives Matter T-Shirt Controversy

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The district superintendent has offered an apology to a sophomore at Buckeye Union High School who was banned from wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt and to her mother.

The letter was written two days after a small group of Buckeye Union High School students walked out of class in protest on Monday, and representatives from several civil-rights organizations gathered to stand with them.

Mariah Havard, 15, wore the shirt to school once and she said a student told her, “Black lives don’t matter,” and “That shirt is meaningless.” When she told school officials about the incident, they said she was not allowed to wear the shirt again, according to Havard.

She wore the shirt again on picture day in defiance, but a vice principal gave her a white shirt to wear instead, Havard said. Later that week, a male administrator asked her to take off her sweatshirt to check whether she was wearing the Black Lives Matter T-shirt underneath, she said.

Eric Godfrey, Buckeye Union School District superintendent, sent a letter to Havard and her mother, Roxanne Havard, to apologize and ask for their help in educational discussions.

“First, I want to apologize for any embarrassment or uncomfortableness regarding the District’s attempted enforcement of the school dress code policy,” he wrote.

Asking for student’s help for new programs

Godfrey had issued a statement Monday that the district was developing a plan to turn the incident into a learning experience, and his Wednesday letter to the Havards details that further.

“Sometimes there are important messages, such as ‘Black Lives Matter,’ that represent both emotional and complicated issues that, without proper understanding and context, create misunderstanding, division and disruption,” Godfrey wrote.

“Student reaction to your T-shirt and the disruption that resulted brought to light the importance of the Buckeye Union High School District instituting faculty and student programs in order to create opportunities for discussion, education and understanding of cultural and racial differences within our community and School District and the need for tolerance.”

He wrote that he is working with various organizations to develop “programs to address the cultural and racial differences in our school.”

“I am hopeful this will bring about understanding and tolerance to these important discussion. This situation can become a unifying moment for us all.”

He also asked Mariah Havard to help develop and participate in the programs.

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Source: Arizona Republic | Kaila White