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12:03 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Kingman student's protest shirt touches off testy tiff

A local parent who sees school uniforms as a symbol of Marxism chose to use the shirt on his son's back to pick a constitutional fight with the school district on the first and second days of school.

Richard Bogan dropped off his son, who's in kindergarten, at Manzanita Elementary Friday morning wearing a uniform with the words "Karl Marx approves of this uniform" embroidered in red on the back.

This was Bogan's second day of protesting the Kingman Unified School District's school uniform policy. Bogan took his son to school Thursday - the first day of school - without a school uniform.

After being told of the policy, Bogan refused to comply and took his son home instead, said KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks.

His son returned to school the next day wearing the embroidered uniform shirt.

"My son was born with the unalienable right to protest," Bogan said. "Rights don't begin when you're 18. They start when you're born."

Upon noticing the embroidered statement after school had already begun, school

officials made the decision to give the student an unaltered uniform to wear for the rest of the day, Jacks said.

After Bogan raised his voice to staff members Thursday when officials made the decision to give the student an unaltered uniform to wear for the rest of the day, Jacks said.

After Bogan raised his voice to staff members Thursday when told his son needed to follow the dress code, staff became concerned about how he would react upon finding out school officials changed the boy's shirt, Jacks said.

As a precaution, the school's student resource officer, Stacy Mayo, was brought in prior to Bogan's arrival Friday after school. Student resource officers are police officers assigned to the various schools in Kingman.

"There was a concern he would be really upset Friday," Jacks said.

He was, and the ensuing argument ranged over constitutional rights, criminal conduct and the rights of an individual in a regimented environment.

Capt. Rusty Cooper of the Kingman Police Department said Bogan was upset and "borderline confrontational" upon arriving Friday. Mayo was near the area parents pick up the school's younger students. She observed Bogan having a conversation with his son's teacher. Mayo saw that the teacher was unable to appease Bogan, so she asked for him to accompany her to the school's office to continue the conversation with the school's principal, Cooper said.

The conversation between Bogan and the school's principal, Joyce Pietri, was all over the place. At one point, Bogan called Pietri a fascist and questioned how familiar she was with constitutional law, Cooper said.

Mayo, in turn, asked Bogan if he was familiar with criminal law and the elements of disorderly conduct, Cooper said. Bogan took the statement as a threat.

Cooper said that Mayo told Bogan that it was not a threat. Since the conversation was going nowhere, Mayo told Bogan to leave the property.

"I feel they (the school) used the officer to intimidate me," Bogan said. "It was an abuse of police power."

Bogan left Manzanita and went over to the KUSD offices, which are a few hundred feet from the school.

Jacks said that Bogan made it clear to him that he viewed the uniform policy as a form of communism. Bogan argued that it was his and his son's constitutional right to protest the policy peacefully.

"He told me that he felt he had already compromised by purchasing the shirt," Jacks said.

Jacks, looking for a way to calm things down, offered to allow the protest to continue. He believed that if the district allowed the anger to subside by allowing the protest to continue, things would return to normal in time. Bogan seemed pleased with Jacks' offer and the conversation ended.

Jacks regrets making the suggestion.

Manzanita staff members told Jacks they were very uncomfortable allowing Bogan's son to continue wearing the altered shirt. Students who come to school with their names embroidered on their uniforms are forced to comply with the uniform policy. It's not fair to allow Bogan to circumvent the rules just because he's being more vocal about it, Jacks said.

Jacks called Bogan Saturday and informed him that the protest would not be allowed to go on. District-wide, students must wear unaltered school uniforms, Jacks said.

If Bogan wants to challenge the policy, he can do so through the KUSD's governing board.

Bogan refused to comply with the policy and decided to withdraw his son from KUSD Monday.

"School uniforms represent Marxism and remove individuality," Bogan said.

Uniforms teach children that they are not individuals, which hinders their ability to express themselves, he said.

Despite removing his son from the school and district, Bogan is not done protesting the issue. He plan to take it up with KUSD's governing board and hopes to get the policy removed.