Board: Principal wrong to ban student's kilt

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Jackson school officials apologize for banning kilt attire at a dance, say student can wear kilt to future school dances, events.

The Jackson school board apologized Monday night to kilt-wearing high school senior Nathan Warmack, saying the student had every right to wear the Scottish attire to school functions.

The board's action, following a half-hour closed session, resolved a controversy that began last November when Warmack wore a kilt to a high school dance.

High school principal Rick McClard kicked Warmack out of the dance because he was wearing a kilt and refused to change into a pair of pants.

Warmack said he was just trying to honor his Scottish heritage.

Following Monday's meeting, he and his parents said they were pleased with the board's decision.

"I think it does settle it," said Warmack who attended the meeting dressed in a black-and-red plaid kilt.

"We are ecstatic with the decision they came to," said his father, Terry Warmack. "We were looking for an apology and we got it tonight," he said standing outside the board office.

Terry Warmack said he felt his son's constitutional rights were violated.

The controversy sparked an international debate about personal freedom and cultural dress. Thousands of people from around the world signed an Internet petition seeking an apology.

In a written statement, school superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson said school officials had no right to bar the student from wearing a kilt to any school function.

Anderson also apologized in the letter, saying that Nathan Warmack was "humiliated" by McClard's action barring him from the November dance.

The superintendent promised in the letter that the district will train administrators and staff in the "proper application" of the dress code in an effort to prevent "future errors in interpretation."

In exchange, the Warmacks agreed they wouldn't take any legal action against school officials.

Anderson initially defended McClard's action, saying that school officials can bar a student from wearing clothes that create a substantial disruption.

But the district's lawyer, Steven Wright, said the kilt wasn't disruptive and didn't violate the district's dress code.

Kirk Lyons, a North Carolina lawyer of Scottish heritage who represented the Warmacks, said kilts are an important part of Scottish culture. "Scots are very touchy about their kilts," said Lyons who showed up for the meeting in a green plaid kilt.

Nathan Warmack said he plans to wear a kilt to the school prom this semester.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, ext. 123

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