An eighth-grade student at Anderson County Senior-Junior High School in rural eastern Kansas claims he has been suspended for declining to take off a chic, colorful Vera Bradley purse.
The boy, 13-year-old Skyler Davis, had been wearing the fabric purse as a fashion accessory since August with no issues, reports Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV.
“I don’t think everyone should be treated differently,” Davis told the station. “Everyone should be — have the same privileges.”
“It expresses myself and I think everyone else can wear it, so I wear it as well,” he added.
However, things apparently changed this week when an unidentified faculty member complained to school officials about the purse.
Davis got called to the assistant principal’s office.
“I refused to take it off, and they suspended me,” he told KCTV.
Davis’s mother, Leslie Willis, who had to come to school to pick up her suspended son, is unhappy with the punishment. In her view, he is a victim of discrimination because girls at the school aren’t suspended for their purses.
“I was a little furious so I called the school just to re-verify the story, and it was that he refused to take off his Vera Bradley bag,” she told the CBS affiliate. “Nothing more to it.”
Willis noted that she reviewed the student handbook and saw no evidence that purses are outlawed at the school.
The county school district superintendent, Don Blome, told KCTV that the school bans purses and all purses, bags and satchels for every student – male and female — in core classes such as math and English. He said students must store such bags in lockers during those classes.
“We strive to make sure we treat every kid alike and there are classroom rules we expect kids to follow,” Blome told the station.
The superintendent’s story is that the rule has “been a long-standing rule,” dating back perhaps a decade. It’s unclear how uniformly the rule has been enforced during those years.
Whatever the case, Davis isn’t backing down about his prized purse. The eighth-grader went back to school on Thursday wearing it proudly. Consequently, he remains suspended.
“We’re going to have to find some compromise in this,” Willis reflected.
Meanwhile, two stores that sell Vera Bradley merchandise have already contacted KCTV hoping to make contact with the boy to provide him with additional purses.