School district calls American Flag shirt 'gang related'

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A 12-year-old California honors student is accused of violating  his school's dress code for wearing a a T-shirt with the American flag on it.

Dustin Cole, a student at Yuba Gardens Intermediate school in Olivehurst, arrived home last week wearing the T-shirt his mom had bought him inside out.

Lori Carpenter said she questioned her son, who told her he received a dress code violation for wearing the shirt, which Carpenter recently bought at Kohl's. She said she liked the shirt's American flag design and blue color for her son.

School administrators claim the shirt could be linked to "gang affiliation."  The district claimed the seemingly simpe patriotic shirt blurred the line between freedom of speech and a safety risk.

A red star on the top right of the shirt is ften associated with the Norteno gang.

"It's just kind of ridiculous," Carpenter says.

A school administrator disagrees.

"Our local gang task force, they identify colors," superintendent Ramiro Carreon says.  "They identify designs. They identify all of the things that we should be aware of.  That design has been associated with gangs in the past and we cannot just turn a blind eye to that.'

"I guess when I went to school it was just basically red and blue bandannas. I never thought it would turn into this," Carpenter says.

School officials say Dustin immediately comlied with the principal's request to turn his shirt inside out but his parents are still wondering if the issue was taken too far.