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Hinsdale Central student's suspension expunged, dress code may be revised

Hinsdale Central Senior Chris Borg asks the District 86 School Board to expunge the suspension he received May 8 for wearing a T-shirt that depicts and an AK47 rifle. | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media  May 12, 2014
This image on a T-shirt worn by a Hinsdale Central student caused the student to be suspended May 8. Chris Borg believes the image does not violate the school dress code. | Kimberly Fornek/Sun-Times Media  May 12, 2014

Hinsdale Central senior Christopher Borg said not only did he get his one-day suspension expunged, but school officials have asked for his input on revising how the dress code is worded.

Borg said he met with Hinsdale Central Interim Principal Tom Paulsen May 14 and was told that because the shirt he wore May 8 ?— which depicted an AK-47 — promoted a legitimate club and did not promote violence or killing, the school decided to remove the suspension from his record.

Paulsen said school officials reviewed the case and decided to remove the suspension from Borg’s record. Paulsen said he could not discuss the details because it involved student privacy. But he said he did ask Borg for suggestions on the wording of the dress code and planned to meet with Borg again Friday.

“I appreciate his interest,” Paulsen said.

Borg’s father, Kevin Borg, said he was glad “all the folderol was over.”

“It’s just incredible the nasty comments people make online, people who don’t even know Chris,” Kevin Born said. “Chris has a lot of character.”

Christopher Borg had addressed the Hinsdale High School District 86 Board about his situation earlier in the week.

In addition to the silhouette of an AK-47 rifle, the T-shirt also has the website, kentuckyarmoryclub.com, printed on it and the words, “Team AK.”

Borg said he got the shirt last fall at a gun range in Kentucky, and not allowing him to wear the shirt infringed on his freedom of speech rights.

He had worn the shirt to school about 10 times before a hall monitor stopped him as he tried to enter the morning of May 8, and sent him to the principal’s office.

Rather than change the shirt or turn it inside out, Borg chose to go home from school that day.

Borg, an Eagle Scout, has taken classes in gun safety and marksmanship, some of them through the Boy Scouts.

Borg suggested to Paulsen that the school policy allow clothing with guns or other weapons on them if the message promotes a legitimate use of the weapon or is from a legitimate organization, such as a gun club or the military. Borg agreed that symbols or pictures should not be allowed if they suggest violence or harming somebody.

The policy should be “a bit more clear,” Borg said, but still be open for some interpretation.

“I wasn’t trying to push buttons or be provocative,” he said.

Borg said he may wear the shirt again on Monday.

“Guns don’t have to be for killing,” Borg said earlier in the week. “They are tools you can use for shooting targets, hunting or self-defense. This is my hobby and it is recognized as an Olympic sport.”

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