The principal of Mandarin Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida apologized to student Christopher Olsen and his mother after the 14-year-old was pulled from class and asked to change out of his “Duck Dynasty” themed shirt that was deemed to break the school’s code of conduct, reports WJXT.
The shirt featured Si Robertson, one of the cast members on the popular A&E show, and the text, “Redneck of the year.”
“One of these ladies at the school walked in and asked me why I was wearing this shirt, [and said] ‘It’s a slur,'” Olsen recounted.
Bronwyn Ramsey, the student’s mother, said, “I don’t feel like it’s a violation of the school’s code of conduct. It does not promote drugs, drinking, alcohol or violence.”
The Duval County Public Schools code of appearance states the following.
Clothing and accessories shall not be worn if they display profanity, violence, lewd and obscene messages, sexually suggestive phrases, or advertisements, phrases or symbols of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs or other symbols, phrases or advertisements that would be offensive to common propriety or decency.
With the display of violence, lewd and obscene messages, sexually suggestive phrases, phrases or symbols of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs that would be offensive all crossed off the list, there are only 2 possible reasons why Olsen’s shirt could have possibly broken Duval County school district code of conduct: either the shirt was seen as an advertisement for A&E, or “redneck” is an offensive phrase.
However, Ramsey does not think “redneck” is a negative term.
“I mean, [a] redneck to me is a hard working person from back in the day. It’s a culture. It’s a way of life and I just didn’t feel like that should be a slur, be labeled a slur,” Ramsey said.
After receiving a phone call from Mandarin MS Principal Debbie Smith on Thursday, Ramsey and her son were told that the shirt will not be banned from the school. The principal apologized, and Olsen can now wear the shirt whenever he wants.