Published August 18, 2012
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Like many middle-schoolers, 13-year-old Brianna Gentry likes to decorate her school notebook with pictures of herself, her family and her friends, but one of these photos is extra special. She keeps a photo of her brother Derrick, a military policeman stationed in Montana, in a prominent spot.
"My brother's very important to me," Brianna told KTLA. "I haven't seen him in a while."
So Brianna and her mother Jaima Eudy were shocked when an administrator at Golden Valley Middle School in San Bernardino told the girl she was breaking school rules by displaying the photo, as well as one of her softball team, even though there is no explicit rule against having photos on binders.
"The counselor took me out of class twice telling me that the pictures are added material," Brianna told KTLA. "But they haven't pulled any other students with pictures out from their class... Just me."
Eudy sent an angry letter to the school, claiming her daughter was being singled out and discriminated against. The school replied by sending home a list of the rules for the AVID program, a high-achieving club that Brianna is a part of, with the section on binders highlighted. However, Eudy says the rules never specifically said photos weren't allowed.
"I was very upset about it, because this is an AVID rule, not a rule for the whole entire school," Eudy told KTLA. "I think if you're going to enforce a rule, the rule should apply to all children."
After speaking with KTLA the school agreed to allow Brianna to keep her brother's photo, but not the one of her softball team. Brianna and her mother say they are happy with the compromise.
"I'd rather have my brother in my pictures than to have nothing at all," Brianna told the station. "So I'm fine with the decision."