Backpack banned for ‘inappropriate’ image

November 5th, 2010 by Staff

NEW PORT RICHEY – Quentin Ferrer, a 4th grader at Richey Elementary School, says he has been bringing the same black back pack to school since the third grade.

He especially likes the art work on the outer flap.

“It was like, graffiti all over it,” he said.

The back pack has created something a flap at the school. The artwork shows a scantily-clad woman in a somewhat provocative pose.

“It was brought to the principal’s attention by another family,” according to assistant Pasco County superintendent David Scanga. “When the principal took a look at it, he thought it was inappropriate.”

Ferrer’s father Fred was upset his son had been removed from class after one complaint. He nonetheless opted to correct the problem: he sewed a “censored” patch over the offensive section of the back pack.

It didn’t work.

“The principal came, grabbed him, (Quentin) took him to the office. My son called me and said the back pack is still not allowed, and still banned the back pack, even though now I made an effort and covered it up.”

Ferrer said he feels his son’s First Amendment rights have been violated.

“The bottom line is, I have a right to stand up for my son,” he said.

Educators say the issue is no longer the backpack, but the distraction it’s caused.

“Once an event creates distraction away from our core purpose, which is teaching children, there does come a point where the principal does have the authority to say ‘ we need to make a decision and move on,’” Sanga said.

Ferrer said he is considering legal action. His son in the meantime takes a different back pack to school. He’d prefer his old one though.

“I like that backpack a lot,” he said.

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