CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A criminal charge has been dismissed against a West Virginia student who refused a teacher’s order to remove a National Rifle Association T-shirt he wore to school.
Logan County Circuit Judge Eric O’Briant signed an order dismissing an obstruction charge Thursday against 14-year-old Jared Marcum stemming from an April 18 incident at Logan Middle School.
Marcum’s attorney, Ben White, said after a review of statements from a police officer and the school’s principal during a preliminary hearing, he and a prosecutor agreed that creating a criminal record for Marcum wasn’t a good idea. White said Marcum would eventually like to enlist in the military.
“I think the right outcome was achieved,” White said Friday.
Prosecutor John Bennett didn’t immediately return a phone message.
Marcum’s stepfather, Allen Larieris, has said the eighth-grader was waiting in line in the school cafeteria when a teacher ordered him to remove the T-shirt or turn it inside out. Marcum refused and was taken under physical restraint to the school office, where an officer told him to “sit down and shut up,” according to White.
Marcum was charged because “he sat down … but kept trying to tell his side of the story,” White said. “Jared didn’t understand he was (eventually) going to be given an opportunity to give his side of the story.”
White said school officials told him Marcum’s one-day suspension was appropriate because he was being disruptive. White disputed that suggestion, saying Marcum was exercising his free speech rights and his support for the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. White also said the T-shirt did not violate the school’s dress code.
White said he still plans to file a lawsuit on Marcum’s behalf against the school district.
The Associated Press typically does not identify juveniles who face criminal charges, but Marcum and his family wanted his name and case known.