Gilbert, AZ – Protesters gathered in front of Perry High School on Monday morning to support students who were punished for wearing Make America Great Again (MAGA) clothing and carrying a Trump 2020 flag on the school’s spirit day.
The spirit day theme was “Party in the USA” and students were encouraged to dress for it on Friday, the Arizona Republic reported.
A group of students went to school wearing red MAGA baseball caps and sweatshirts. One of them carried a MAGA flag.
There were no problems until lunchtime, when administrators circulated around campus and told students they saw wearing MAGA gear to remove it because it was a distraction, the Arizona Republic reported.
The students complied with the requests and took off the offending red hats and sweatshirts, but when the school day ended just before 2:30 p.m. on March 1, they met outside to put them back on and take pictures with the flag.
That’s when things really went sideways for the students who were just trying to show their support for President Donald Trump on USA spirit day.
A school resource officer began taking photos of the kids taking photos of themselves, and then began asking students for their names, according to the Arizona Republic.
When freshman Logan Jones refused to give him her name, she was sent to the principal’s office.
On the way, she called her mother who told her not to answer any questions until she arrived at the school.
"I thought the whole situation was weird,” her mother, Heidi Jones, told the Arizona Republic. “They're out of school, so why are you coming up to her?"
Logan refused to give school administrators her name when she got to the office, per her mother’s instructions.
By the time Heidi Jones arrived 10 minutes later, her daughter had been suspended for 10 days, the Arizona Republic reported.
Jennifer Farris told the Arizona Republic that the same thing happened to her daughter, and she also told her not to answer questions until she got there.
"I think it's because the faculty didn't agree with the kids' message to support their president and they don't want them to express their feelings," Farris said. "My kids are expressing freedom of speech on USA Day. They're allowed to."
While her daughter wasn’t suspended like Logan, when Farris argued with the school administrators in the office, she was told she was being trespassed from the school and was forbidden to return to campus, the Arizona Republic reported.
"I want a public apology from the school district and the administration for how they treated not only the parents but also the students. There's no reason these kids should've gotten in trouble at all," Farris said.
Both mothers have contacted the Chandler Unified School District’s superintendent about the incident.
"They told me I was making this political and I told them this wasn't political at all. The fact is, if this was during a campaign situation, I would understand that her bringing this onto campus would be a distraction," Heidi Jones said. "However, this isn't political at all because he is already our president."
The story, with pictures of the kids sporting MAGA gear in front of the school, quickly went viral on social media and caused outrage in the community and among First Amendment supporters.
So the school sent out a letter to all of the Perry High School parents that said the story was untrue.
Principal Dan Serrano wrote that the students had been disciplined for refusing to provide their information to school administrators after school hours, not for wearing MAGA gear.
However, Serrano refused to answer specific questions or address Logan’s suspension, citing privacy laws.
Farris told KTVK that the girls were following the instructions given to them by their parents, and waiting for their moms to arrive before they answered any questions.
She said neither girl was being defiant, they were just doing what they were told to do.
"I feel bad for these children. I don't agree with everything our president does or says, but I respect our country and I'll support these kids using their freedom of speech," Heidi Jones said.
About 50 protesters gathered in front of Perry High School early Monday morning, dressed in MAGA gear and carrying American flags and Trump flags and signs supporting free speech.