Torri Albrecht's mother claims that her daughter's sweatshirt with the image of the Confederate Flag was the reason why the 14-year-old was suspended from Kreps Middle School in East Windsor, New Jersey. Jane West tells the Times of Trenton that the school has overstepped its boundaries, and violated her "daughter’s right to free speech":
"Jane West says she’s thinking about withdrawing her daughter, Torri Albrecht, from the school even as district officials insist that the flag — viewed by many as a racially charged symbol — was not the reason the girl was suspended.
'They’re saying that now because they know they really went too far this time,' West said. 'If there wasn’t a problem with the sweatshirt, why did the vice principal call at 10 after 8 on Monday to demand that I bring a change of clothes for my daughter?'
'He told me he had a bunch of students and a bunch of teachers come into his office to say they were disturbed by it,' she said."
The family, originally from Virginia, told News 12 New Jersey that they consider the flag to be part of their heritage. West went on to equate her daughter wearing the flag to "Indian kids" wearing "turbans," or Jewish kids wearing "their yarmulkes."
West told the Times that before heading to school on the day of the suspension she called her daughter’s cell phone to tell her not to follow any orders to turn the sweatshirt inside out. When she got to the school she was told that her daughter had been given a one-day suspension.
According to CBS News New York, school officials said that no student was suspended for wearing an inappropriate shirt, but would not clarify on why Albrecht was disciplined due to student confidentiality policies. District Superintended Edward Forsthoffer told the Times that the district has a dress code which bans any clothing that causes a substantial disturbance in school.
West denounces allegations that the Confederate Flag represents racism more so than heritage. “My older daughter is biracial. For Torri this was about expressing herself. It was about saying ‘I’m from the South and I’m proud of it.’ She didn’t do it to cause hurt feelings,” West told the Times.
The superintendent insists that despite West's claims, no ban was issued on the shirt.
West said she plans to eventually send her to daughter to Virginia to live with her sister. In the meantime, West told the Times that she is considering home-schooling prior to moving the girl back south.