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Fargo district stands by rejection of yearbook picture with rifle, prompting call to wear pro-gun rights shirts to school

FARGO -- The associate superintendent of Fargo Public Schools has upheld a principal's decision to refuse to allow a photo of a student posing with a rifle in the school's yearbook.

FARGO -- The associate superintendent of Fargo Public Schools has upheld a principal's decision to refuse to allow a photo of a student posing with a rifle in the school's yearbook.

Charles Renville, the North High School senior's father, is now urging parents to send their kids to school wearing shirts that support hunting rights and the Second Amendment.

"Do not lay down your God given rights! Resist this bad policy and stand for liberty!" Renville wrote last week on Facebook, before asking all involved "to be civil and respectful."

Renville said in an interview Monday that his son, Josh, and many of his son's friends already wear hunting or firearm-related shirts to school on a regular basis, which is precisely his point.

"They're sort of being selective with their policy," he said of the district.

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Students returned to school Monday for the first time after winter break, so Renville didn't know whether any had worn their shirts.

The controversy over his son's photo started last month, when Renville wrote on Facebook that Fargo North's Principal Andy Dahlen would not allow Josh's senior picture in the yearbook.

In the photo, Josh is standing next to an American flag in a patriotic sleeveless shirt, as a semi-automatic sporting rifle leans against his right shoulder.

Dahlen said in an interview that the photo was rejected from the yearbook based on three school policies: one banning weapons on school property, a second banning publication of materials that promote violence and a third banning clothing that advertises or promotes weapons.

But to Renville, that argument simply doesn't make sense.

"I don't get it. It's just a picture. It's not promoting violence," he said Monday. "It's just a kid saying this is my hobby and showing his love for his nation."

Renville appealed to Associate Superintendent Bob Grosz, who upheld Dahlen's decision, district spokeswoman AnnMarie Campbell said Monday. Campbell said district officials would not be doing interviews on this topic.

Renville is now considering a final appeal to the superintendent, Jeff Schatz, and might seek the support of the school board at the board's meeting Jan. 12. He also hasn't ruled out suing the district, though he said that's his last resort because it would cost taxpayer dollars.

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"I don't want to do that, I really don't," he said. "But I think sometimes you have to wake up our public officials and say we are a diverse nation and we all have our rights."

Related Topics: FARGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
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