A T-shirt that was designed by a group of seniors at Oceanside High School has generated anger and concern among some students, alumni and parents who say it is offensive.
The shirt features several words arranged in the shape of the letter “O,” a design associated with the school district.
But many members of the community say they are offended by phrases featured on the shirt. Some are being interpreted as references to drug and alcohol use, while others are being interpreted as derogatory terms for African-Americans and people with disabilities.
“We’re appalled by the tastelessness of it and it’s definitely something that we want to get to the bottom of,” said district spokeswoman Donna Kraus, who added that students are not allowed to wear the shirts at school.
The design was not sanctioned by the school or district, Kraus said. The shirt was created by a “small group of students” for the annual student-organized senior skip day, which was on Friday, according to Kraus.
She said the district, which learned about the shirts Thursday after receiving complaints from students and parents, is “currently investigating.”
“That some students made an unfortunate and poor choice in no way represents this school district, its young people or the upstanding families of this community,” the district said in a statement on its website.
Several students and alumni also criticized the shirts on social media.
Nicole Swerdloff, 21, a 2014 graduate of the school, penned a blog post about the controversy caused by the design.
Swerdloff, a student at Pace University, said she was “personally offended” by the reference made to people with disabilities and thinks the students involved “should be held accountable.”
She also added that the design does not represent the school as a whole.
“This shirt is in no way, shape or form a reflection on the entire senior class, Oceanside High School, or the Oceanside community,” she wrote.