Students speak out for principal - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Students speak out for principal

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Tifton- At the Tift County School Board meeting Tuesday night, nothing about Hannah Smith and Principal Mike Duck was on the agenda.

But you wouldn't have known it by the choice of clothing. Students and staff piled in to support their principal, most of them wearing t-shirts with "We support Mr. Duck" printed on them.

"Because we think that Mr. Duck was perfectly within his administrative rights to take disciplinary measures," said Chris Rutland, a senior at Tift County High School.

The t-shirts were donated by a t-shirt shop in Tifton. A few people signed up to speak to the board about the situation since Hannah Smith was suspended last Thursday for wearing a t-shirt that says Freedom of Expression on the front and Don't Drink and Drive on the back. She wore it in protest after several friends were forced to remove shirts with anarchy symbols.

"Everybody pretty much complied except for one person," Rutland said.

Staff and students say their principal did the right thing. Smith wasn't at the meeting, but her mother spoke, thanking the people for wearing the shirts.

"Because it's silently in recognition of what Hannah wants everyone to understand. You have the freedom of expression," said Traci Fletcher.

She also admitted it doesn't make it easy for Smith to show up at school.

"How comfortable is she supposed to be when she has administrators and teachers that are teaching her in her classes basically saying I'm against you."

"The shirt that said free speech did cause a disturbance and Mr. Duck saw that," Rutland said.

That's why they came to the school board to let people know that they are standing behind their principal's right to decide what's right inside the school. the school board chairman told the students not to wear those shirts at school Wednesday.

posted by news@walb.com