A Truman Middle School student went home Friday after being threatened with an in-school suspension for wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey on a day that administrators relaxed the campus dress code to allow for Seahawks colors.
Grendon Bailie, 13, is a diehard Steelers fan who couldn’t bring himself to don the Seahawks’ blue and green in the runup to this weekend’s playoff games.
He showed up for class at the West End Tacoma school Friday in the Steelers’ black-and-yellow and was told he would be disciplined if he didn’t change into his normal school uniform or put on Seahawks colors, his father said.
Instead, dad Stoughton Bailie took his son home.
“I was kind of disappointed that they were letting everyone else wear what they wanted,” Grendon said Friday.
His family had fun with Grendon’s story resonating in Puget Sound area and Pittsburgh media. Steelers linebacker LaMarr Wood-ley reached out to the Bailies and offered to send Grendon an autographed photo.
“Oh my god, I started freaking out,” Grendon said, describing his thoughts when he opened Wood-ley’s message. “I can’t even describe it.”
Aside from the sports buzz, Stoughton Bailie said the incident offered a life lesson.
“Obviously you stick up for what you believe in,” the dad said.
Truman – the alma mater of Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant – has a uniform policy, as do all the public middle schools in Tacoma. Students normally are not allowed to wear logos on their shirts.
Administrators made an exception Friday with excitement running high for the Seahawks’ improbable playoff run, which next goes through Chicago for a Sunday matchup against the Bears.
“The kids got word they could either wear Seahawks colors or they could wear their school uniforms and those were the only options available,” Tacoma Public Schools spokesman Dan Voelpel said.
Grendon on Thursday asked a teacher if he could wear a jersey for the Steelers, who host the Baltimore Ravens today. He was told he could not.
With parental permission, he wore it anyway.
“I said ‘Hey, you wear (a Steelers jersey) if you want,’ ” his dad said.
The family has its roots in Pittsburgh, and Stoughton Bailie said he places a high value on loyalty.
“You can’t help it. It’s in your DNA,” he said about his ties to the Steelers.
He’s in favor of the school’s dress code, but he’d prefer to see more choices when administrators choose to relax it.
“The idea is if you’re going to make an exception it has to be more broad, not just an exception for what you personally like,” Stoughton Bailie said.
Voelpel said the incident would not go on Grendon’s permanent school record or lead to other discipline.
The Bailies enjoyed Friday in one more way. Stoughton Bailie said he’s been getting hassled by Seahawks fans since Pittsburgh beat Seattle in Super Bowl XL in 2006. That game was criticized for poor officiating.
Now he gets to trumpet his family’s pride in Pittsburgh.
“I’m really enjoying poking a stick in the eye of the Seahawks guys who’ve been giving me grief for the past five years,” he said, laughing about comments he read on news websites that have picked up stories about his son.