A Suffolk County, Long Island public school policy infuriated one parent over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend when a sixth grade student was asked to wash a shamrock off her face during class.
The incident happened at Robert Moses Middle School in North Babylon last Friday after an announcement by the assistant principal declared that certain St. Patrick’s Day themed items were not permitted to be worn by students as they violated the code of conduct.
“On a loudspeaker, the students were told today it is not St. Patrick’s Day,” according to Jill Zwiebel, the student’s mother.
Irish American student Amanda Zwiebel, 12, was then instructed by her teacher to remove the painted shamrock from her face.
“We had painted a small shamrock on Amanda’s face.” Zwiebel told the Irish Voice. “We go all out on St. Patrick’s Day.”
“She came off the bus at about 2:55 and she said, ‘Mom I don’t know what I did wrong, I’m Irish and they made me wash off my shamrock,’” Zwiebel added.
“St. Patrick’s Day is about pride in your heritage and roots. What harm can a shamrock do? At my other daughter’s school they were giving out shamrocks.”
The principal later apologized to the Zwiebels.
A statement by Patricia Godekm, superintendent of North Babylon School District, described it as an isolated incident.
“Students are allowed to dress in celebration of holidays as long as they are not in violation of the district's code of conduct,” the statement read.
“In hindsight, the teacher realizes that it would have been okay to allow Amanda to keep the shamrock on her face.” Godekm added that the teacher in question had no intention of embarrassing Amanda.
However, the mother of three remains annoyed over the incident.
“I see this as a lack of tolerance,” she told the Irish Voice.
“Many students have Henna on, but you cannot have a shamrock? This is America; we have freedom of expression and religion.
“As far as St. Patrick’s Day there is no consideration.”