Middle-School Student Kicked Out of Class for Patch His Teacher Claimed Represented Slavery

By: Carissa | Last updated: Oct 07, 2023

A 12-year-old boy was recently kicked out of class for having a series of patches on his backpack that were deemed “offensive” by the school’s administration.

The most controversial patch in question was of the Gadsden flag. In a meeting with the boy’s parents and the school, an administrator tried to explain what made the Gadsden flag patch offensive and inaccurately told the family that the flag had ties to slavery. Needless to say, an online uproar swiftly ensued. 

Banned From Class Until He Removed the Flag

12-year-old Jaiden Rodriguez was told to remove the patch from his backpack, which featured an image of a rattlesnake along with the words “Don’t tread on me.” 


Source: Wikimedia Commons

He was told he would not be allowed back to class until he complied with the school’s demands. His family was confused by the school’s request, and when the administrator described the meaning behind the flag they were truly dumbfounded by her response.

School Administrator Makes False Claims About the Flag

An administrator at the Vanguard School in Colorado told Rodriguez’s parents that the Gadsden flag was inappropriate due to its “origins with slavery and the slave trade.” 


Source: bennyjohnson/Twitter

The woman’s words were quite shocking because, as an educator, she should know the meaning behind historical symbols before ordering a student to remove them. The boy’s mom pointed out that the Gadsden flag is actually a symbol pertaining to the Revolutionary War, the American War of Independence against the British.

School Also Deems Other Patches “Inappropriate”

While the administrator was misinformed and the Gadsden flag has nothing to do with slavery, the boy’s backpack was decorated with other patches that were deemed offensive by the school.


Source: Wikimedia Commons

The middle-schooler also had patches with images of semi-automatic weapons, which the school said went against the dress code policy. The school sent an email to his parents alleging that his backpack decor created a “disruptive to the classroom environment.”

Video of Meeting Between the Parents and School Goes Viral

Video footage of the meeting between Rodriguez’s parents and the school’s administrator was shared to X, the platform formally known as Twitter, and people were stunned by the administration’s lack of knowledge.


Source: joybacklascruz/TikTok

“The assistant principal is disgraceful for not knowing the true origin of that flag,” said one commenter. “What kind of school is this? How does this “educator” not know this? Get him to a new school!” said another outraged viewer.

Millions of People Support the Middle-Schooler

Most of the commentary on social media rallied around the young boy for standing up for what he believes in and refusing to remove the patch to appease the school board.

Source: cboyack/X

Some are calling Rodriguez a true “patriot” for opting to keep the flag while being faced with suspension. Several commenters continued to blast the administrator, saying, “This school rep is so clueless [and] isn’t even aware of what policy she is enforcing. Just that she was given the authority to enforce it.”


Even the Governor Comes to Boy’s Defense

The issue at the Vanguard School became such a hot topic that even government officials got involved. In an unexpected twist, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who is a Democrat, chimed in to defend the young boy.


Source: jaredpolis/Instagram

In a tweet in response to the video, Governor Polis wrote, “The Gadsden flag is a proud symbol of the American Revolution and an iconic warning to Britain or any government not to violate the liberties of Americans.” 


Earlier Rulings Support the Boy’s Beliefs

To add weight to the boy’s argument for keeping the Gadsden flag patch, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had previously determined that the flag is not a symbol of racism.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The EOC had to tackle the issue in 2016 after a US postal worker complained that a coworker was wearing a hat with the Gadsden flag. Given all this information, it seemed like Rodriguez had a lot of support.


Calling an Emergency Meeting Regarding the Matter

Polis continued to stand up for Rodriguez’s right to wear the Gadsden flag patch.


Source: Pinterest

He wrote, “It appears on popular American medallions and challenge coins through today and Ben Franklin also adopted it to symbolize the union of the 13 colonies. It’s a great teaching moment for a history lesson!” The words of the governor were impactful, and the school was forced to have an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.


The Student Wins Big in the End

Due to the immense backlash, the school eventually ruled in favor of Rodriguez and said it would allow him to wear the Gadsden flag on his backpack.

Source: bennyjohnson/X

“From Vanguard’s founding, we have proudly supported our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the ordered liberty that all Americans have enjoyed for almost 250 years,” the school board said in a letter sent home to families.


The School Issues an Email in Support of its Student

The email from the school board said that they support the boy’s right to don the flag and they respect what it represents.


Source: benshapiro/YouTube

“The Vanguard School recognizes the historical significance of the Gadsden flag and its place in history. This incident is an occasion for us to reaffirm our deep commitment to classical education in support of these American principles,” it wrote.


Sparking a Desire to Get Into Politics

Jaiden Rodriguez happily returned to school without making any changes to his backpack decor. Amid all the drama surrounding his Gadsden flag patch, the 12-year-old boy has been inspired to get into politics at school.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Rodriguez is running for school council and hopes to make positive changes at the Vanguard School. If elected, his first order of business will be to ensure that nobody treads on anyone else’s rights.