HOUSTON — A middle school student believes the Fort Bend Independent School District has violated her rights, and now she wants an apology.
Jonae Devlin, 14, was suspended from Hodges Bend Middle School after wearing a rosary to the school.
“I never get in any trouble like this,” said the 8th grader.
Devlin said she wore the rosary because it reminds her of her late grandmother who was a practicing Catholic.
“It reminds me of all the love she had for me,” Devlin said.
Devlin said the principal ordered her to remove the rosary just before the winter break.
“She said, ‘I’m going to give you the choice to take it off or be suspended,’ and I said, ‘You might as well suspend me,’” Devlin told us.
“I’m angry because of the way they’re treating students,” said Sherell Johnson, Devlin’s mom.
According to the district’s student dress code, openly wearing a rosary violates school policy.
Some gang experts have associated the rosary with gang activity.
“The rosary can be a sign of gang involvement,” said Victor Gonzales, the Director of the Houston mayor’s Anti-Gang Task Force. “Schools are just worried about safety.”
Both Devlin and her mom claimed they had no idea about the policy.
FBISD officials insist the dress code was spelled out to both parents and children during a series of seminars at the beginning of the school year. District officials said they stood by the decision to discipline Devlin.
But Devlin doesn’t think it was fair.
“Everyone who wears a rosary is not in a gang,” she said.