Schoolgirl suspended for T-shirt

June 26, 2008 at 2:44 PM

AMITYVILLE, N.Y., June 26 (UPI) -- A second-grader's T-shirt bearing criticism of the "N-word" has itself become the subject of criticism by suburban New York school officials.

Jaiden Haber, 8, was asked by the principal at Amityville's Northwest Elementary to change her shirt, which carried the slogan "N the 'N' Word" and "It's time!" Now the issue has become a source of contention with the girl's mother and the New York Civil Liberties Union, Newsday reported Thursday.

Jaiden's mother, Karen Haber, 45, said teachers should have "seized the moment" to discuss the shirt because it was intended to encourage tolerance at the racially diverse school.

But district superintendent John Williams said the T-shirt was overly inflammatory and a "lightning rod" that outweighed any educational value.

"To send a little white girl wearing this shirt into a very diverse district that is almost 90 percent non-white was not the way to address this word," he said.

But civil liberties union spokesperson Tara Keenan-Thomson said the school violated Jaiden's First Amendment rights.

"All students have the right to wear what they want, and this does not stop at the school gates, regardless of content or how old she is," she said.

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