By Jill Glavan
UPDATE: The father of one of the students who wore the t-shirts has responded to Fox 59. Watch his side of the story here.
MARION, Ind. (September 9, 2014) — The family of a high school student whose mug shot appeared on t-shirts at a rivalry game wants more to be done.
Photos posted on social media show students at Marion High School wearing the t-shirts, some of them in the school, with a fellow student’s mugshot on them.
The student’s father said his son used to play soccer for Marion, but after he got in trouble with the law and faced threatening comments on social media, he decided to transfer to a neighboring rival school.
When the two schools met for a game last Wednesday, his family quickly saw students and even adults wearing the shirts in the stands.
“I was shocked, first, and then I thought, ‘How did they get this picture?’ Because I had never even seen the picture,” father Kevin Rittenhouse said.
In a statement, Marion High spokeswoman Patricia Gibson said the district was “disappointed” by the situation and made students remove the shirts at school and leave the game if wearing them.
Rittenhouse, however, said that he repeatedly asked administrators at the game to remove people wearing the shirts and it took an entire half of the game to do so.
“I felt somebody needed to know that this was going on,” Rittenhouse said.
“It’s shocking. It’s appalling,” the student’s aunt Kelly Chastain said.
Chastain said she and other family members know that by talking about it, the shirts will get more attention, but that they did not want to let it go without any action or consequences. They believed someone from the school should have alerted them when the shirts appeared at school earlier in the day.
“They could’ve easily made a phone call and said, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on. We don’t condone it, here are the steps we’re taking to resolve it,” Chastain said.
Rittenhouse said he doesn’t understand why anyone thought the shirts were a good idea and that it was rivalry gone too far. He wants others to know that it affected his entire family.
“Maybe if they (thought they) were being funny, you know, but that’s not the right kind of funny. … They want to brush it off like nothing happened and I think people need to know,” Rittenhouse said.
Marion Schools released this written statement to FOX59 in response to the incident:
“Marion High School administrators addressed the issue of the shirts in question immediately upon learning of them soon after school started on the day of the soccer double header. Anyone found wearing one of the shirts at school throughout the day was required to remove it, per dress code policy.
“In addition, school administrators took a proactive stance at the time of the games, turning people who were wearing the shirts away at the gate. No one was allowed into the stadium with one of the shirts visible. Unfortunately, there were a few who concealed them and displayed them once inside the stadium. MHS administrators dealt with those as they arose, and people were asked to cover the shirts or leave the stadium.”
“The MHS Athletic Department is committed to developing champions of character and promoting the spirit of sportsmanship. Coaches and teams were notified that day that any players wearing the shirts would not be allowed entry into the stadium.”
“It is a disappointing situation. Administrators have spoken directly with family members to try to resolve their concerns, and would be happy to discuss the situation further if they address their continued concerns directly to us.”