Eighth grade student Skylar Davis was recently suspended for wearing a purse to his classes at Anderson County Senior-Junior School. Davis had been wearing the Vera Bradley bag everyday since the beginning of the school year in August. Yet, in November, the Kansas student was asked to remove the purse.
Davis refused, and was sent to the office. There, Assistant Principal Don Hillard repeated the request to remove the bag. Davis continued to refuse, citing that other students are permitted to carry purses and bags to class. He felt that the request that he remove the purse was discriminatory.
Hillard suspended Davis. In disbelief, Davis’ mother, Leslie Willis, called the school to verify the reason for her son’s suspension. When she learned that the suspension sprang solely from Davis’ refusal to remove the bag, Willis decided to review the student handbook. She could find no references to purses or bags in the document. Accordingly, Willis also felt that the request for Davis to leave the purse in his locker was discriminatory in nature.
While Willis could find no entry in the student handbook that prohibits carrying bags and purses into classrooms, the Facebook page for School District 365, of which Anderson County Senior-Junior School is a part, states that school policy prevents students from carrying bags or purses into the room for certain core classes. Bags are supposed to be stowed in the student’s locker when they are in class. If the student brings a bag to class, they may be asked to take it to their locker. The district says that this rule has been in place for several years.
It appears that Davis disagrees, noting that many female students carry purses into classrooms. The situation suggests that perhaps the rule against bags in the classroom has not been uniformly enforced in the past. Perhaps the suspension and subsequent media attention will cause the school to revisit its bag policy, applying it equally to all students or abolishing the prohibition entirely. For now, Davis is back in class, and it remains unclear how the situation will ultimately be resolved.