Parents are always striving to teach their children to be inclusive and not put labels on their peers (or anyone for that matter), but now a school in Arizona is coming under fire for doing exactly that. The school, Mingus Union High School in Cottonwood, Ariz has come under fire from the ACLU after they learned that that students who are failing are being forced to wear red badges, indicating to the entire student body that these students are struggling.
According to NBC News, all students at Mingus Union High School are assigned a badge color they must wear. Freshmen and sophomores wear red ID badges while juniors and seniors wear grey badges. The school's attorney, Susan Segal explained to Yahoo! Lifestyle why the different grades wear different colored ID badges. “These are standard badges worn by students at schools across the nation issued in large part as identification in the case of a school shooting,” she said. "At Mingus, older kids are allowed to leave campus for lunch, and their colored badges indicate their grade level to security guards.”
However, the ACLU is now claiming that upperclassmen who are failing any class will now have to wear a red ID badge, resulting in 'shaming' and increased bullying. "The District's 'scarlet badge' policy in which it publicly identifies and shames under-performing students, does not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate educational interest," the ACLU wrote in a letter to the Arizona school superintendent. The ACLU writes that by doing this, students are forced to reveal their academic status, which is no one's business but their own, to their peers.
“Not surprisingly, students forced to wear the bright-red badges have experienced increased bullying, public ridicule, and shaming by other students and teachers,” the letter states.
Jordan Pickett is one junior who has been required to wear the red badge but feels it's unfair as her grades dipped because of health issues. AZFamily.com“I have to go down to Phoenix to do doctor visits and all that, so I miss a lot of days of school because of it,” Pickett, who suffers from anemia, explained to. Pickett's friend Jonah Ray also has to wear a red ID badge and claims he's being treated differently because of it. “Upperclassmen who are missing any credit, whatsoever, any credit, are immediately slapped with a red card,” Ray explained. “I said I like to study history. And a kid immediately chimed in saying ‘You like to study, then why do you have a red card? That must mean you’re stupid or something."
Students like Jordan should not be forced to wear a “scarlet badge” for not having certain credit hours. Mingus should dissolve this identification card system to prevent other students from feeling marginalized and excluded like Jordan does. pic.twitter.com/XL5tzHQqC1— ACLU of Arizona (@ACLUaz) January 3, 2019
The ACLU got involved and claims the school is violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act that is meant to ensure the privacy of a student's educational records. Segal however claims the school isn't violating FERPA because the act allows for the release of 'directory information.' Jordan’s family never opted out of the disclosure of directory information,” Segal told Yahoo Lifestyle. The ACLU says it will continue to speak with the school, who will hopefully have a change of heart regarding this practice.
"We have the very best intentions at heart and have no problem reviewing our practices," Regina Gee, both the high school principal and acting superintendent of the school district told NBC.