School says stu­dent’s aware­ness T-shirt not ap­pro­pri­ate

Belleville News-Democrat - - Front Page - BY DANA RIECK

An el­e­men­tary school stu­dent in Belleville was told to cover his can­cer aware­ness shirt, which his mom said he was wear­ing to honor his grandma’s fight with breast can­cer.

Twelve-year-old Blake Coil’s sweat­shirt with the phrase “Hakuna Matata” on it, ac­cord­ing to a Fox2Now re­port. The phrase is writ­ten so that “tata” is big­ger and in a dif­fer­ent color than the rest of the let­ters.

Roo­sevelt El­e­men­tary staff told him to cover it up be­cause it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate. Roo­sevelt Prin­ci­pal Craig Hayes told Fox2Now the word “tata” on Blake’s shirt is slang for breast.

Blake’s mother, Christie Coil, said he wore it the day be­fore Hal­loween and does not un­der­stand why school au­thor­i­ties find it in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

“There’s noth­ing of­fen­sive on the shirt; there’s no rea­son he shouldn’t be able to wear it,” she said Fri­day morn­ing.

She doesn’t see the word “tatas” as slang.“I re­ally don’t think it’s a slang word, it’s just an­other word ... for breast,” she said, adding she could come up with slang terms that would be in­ap­pro-

pri­ate. Coil said Hayes talked to her and told her that he spoke with other school of­fi­cials. He told the mom they sup­port Blake and breast can­cer, but they don’t sup­port his sweat­shirt.

She has since re­ceived a lot of in­put from other par­ents and com­mu­nity mem­bers via so­cial me­dia.

“I haven’t run into one per­son that has found it of­fen­sive. That’s why we picked it, it’s from ‘The Lion King,’ ” she said.

The phrase is orig­i­nally from the Dis­ney movie “The Lion King” and means “no wor­ries.”

Coil said she is work­ing to get Blake an ac­tual Lion King shirt to wear to school.

“So that way he’s not out of the loop com­pletely,” she said.

Hayes re­leased this state­ment to the BND on Fri­day af­ter­noon:

“The Belleville Pub­lic Schools, Dis­trict #118, takes great pride in its long- stand­ing ef­forts to sup­port and pro­mote health and well­ness ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing sup­port­ing Can­cer Aware­ness and the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser, to name a few. Our stu­dents and our com­mu­nity have shown us, time and time again, that they are pas­sion­ate and com­mit­ted to these and other worth­while causes, and we com­mend then for their ef­forts.

In ac­cor­dance with state and fed­eral stu­dent pri­vacy laws, Dis­trict #118 does not dis­cuss in­di­vid­ual stu­dent mat­ters. How­ever, the Dis­trict can state its poli­cies pro­mote con­duct and at­tire that min­i­mize dis­rup­tions and sup­port a pos­i­tive ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ment.

Par­ents can al­ways con­tact their stu­dent’s build­ing prin­ci­pal di­rectly to dis­cuss any ques­tions or con­cerns they may have about our poli­cies and pro­ce­dures.”

Coil said her fam­ily is host­ing a fundrais­ing spaghetti din­ner for her mother, Sheri Nieder­brach, 4 p.m. on Satur­day at the Amer­i­can Le­gion in O’Fal­lon, 109 North Penn St.


Blake Coil, 12, was told to cover this can­cer aware­ness shirt at a Belleville school. His mother said he was wear­ing it to honor his grand­mother’s fight with breast can­cer.

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