GILBERT — Perry High School Principal Dan Serrano claims that he and his staff did not target pro-Trump students during the school’s “Party in the USA” Spirit Week event on Friday.
While Principal Serrano’s targeting is in dispute, his actions and those of his staff have led to threats against students and their families after a video of Serrano and concerned mother, Jennifer Farris, went viral.
The video shows Serrano explaining to Farris in the administration office that it was disrespectful for her daughter to carry a flag that supported President Donald Trump.
“Because to carry a flag around is not a good use of a flag,” the principal tells the mom in a school office.
Farris says that the Trump flag had been in a backpack most of the day. It was taken out momentarily for the USA Day assembly. It was only taken out again for the impromptu after school photo shoot.
Farris questioned why the school would sponsor a USA Day, but frown on support for Trump.
“I just think this is censorship at its finest when it comes to the schools,” she told Azfamily.com. “They can’t put on USA Day and not expect the kids to support their president. And if you’re going to do that, what are you teaching the kids?”
Farris was upset because her daughter was ordered to leave the campus after school, and she was not informed of the action taken by the principal.
Farris shared the video on Facebook with the parent advocacy group, Purple For Parents. The group was formed after parents across the state began sharing stories of unprofessional behavior of educators during the #Redfored campaign launched last year by teachers’ unions across the country.
Farris’ video shows his treatment of Farris and unwillingness to assuage her concerns or explain why her daughter was being forced off campus.
In fact, Principal Serrano adds insult to injury and abruptly announces that Farris is “trespassed from school” and that should she return to campus she will be arrested on sight. The video sparked outrage in Arizona.
After the video was picked up by news outlets and had gone national, Principal Serrano took a more professional tone in an email to parents. In that email, Serrano claimed that group of students caused a disruption at lunch and after school.
The students at the center of the controversy did not, and could not, have participated in the alleged disruptive behavior during their lunch period.
Hiding behind the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which prevents student information from being divulged to the public, Principal Serrano relied on innuendo to cast aspersions on the students.
In his cryptic email, Serrano referred to a disciplinary action taken against one of the students, leaving readers with the impression that the student engaged in behavior other than political speech, deserving of a ten-day suspension.
After the story went viral, school officials advised the parents that no disciplinary action had or would be taken.
Despite the apparent facts that students involved did nothing more than wear clothing supporting the president and carry a banner, anti-Trump activists have leveled attacks against them and their parents.
Students called into office at end of school day
According to Azfamily.com, “At least eight students in MAGA gear were brought to the office at the end of the school day. The students say they were taking pictures in their outfits and holding a President Trump flag when a resource officer approached them.”
“The police officer came up and said, ‘we would like you to take off the merchandise and get off the campus,'” junior Tori Farris told Azfamily.com.
According to the students, the police resource officer began taking photos of the students and then demanded that they go to the administration offices with him.
“He singled me out and said, ‘Hey darlin’ what’s your name?’ And I was kind of like, ‘why do you need my name? We are going off campus, we’re doing what you told us to do,'” freshman Logan Jones told Azfamily.com.
The students grew concerned with officer’s unusual response to their after-school photo shoot and called their parents as they walked to the administration office.
“She said that they had been asked to leave school campus because they were wearing ‘Make America Great’ things and they were taking pictures with a big banner,” Jennifer Farris, Tori’s mom, told Azfamily.com.
Not so much a mystery
For one of the student’s fathers, Marko Trickovic, Principal Serrano’s attitude and staff’s reaction to Trump is not at all surprising. What surprises Trickovic , a former student at the school, is that nothing has changed at Perry High.
Last May, Trickovic became concerned when his son was forced to complete an assignment, the “Gender Lens” Power Point project.
According to an article in the ADI by Jennifer Leon Hill, Trickovic’s son was forced to research and compare the novel they read using “gender lens” through “Gender Queer,” “Third-wave Feminism,” and “Gender Oppression.”
Trickovic and other parents took their concerns to Principal Serrano. Serrano claimed that he had no idea what his teachers were teaching and dismissed their concerns.
Trickovic, a naturalized citizen whose family fled communism, was stunned that his son was being taught critical theory rather than how to think critically. As someone who fled the ravages of communism, Trickovic could not understand why educators would glamorize Marxism.
“I live in a great community right next to the school,” said Trickovic on Sunday, “but I pulled my son out of that school and now drive him to an excellent charter school where they have a picture of George Washington in the front office.” Trickovic says his son is thriving in the new school environment.
Trickovic questions how the same school that allowed students to leave campus last year “to protest the Second Amendment could object to kids wearing Trump gear.”
Trickovic believes that much of the controversy at Perry stems from Principal Serrano’s inability or disinterest in managing his staff.
“He is in over his head,” Trickovic said. “I told him that if I ran my business the way he runs the school, he would be out of business.”