No Tats In Class
Florida student kicked out of school over tattoo that administrators say is gang related.
A Florida high school student says she was kicked out of school in her senior year because a tattoo on her arm, one that some school administrators think symbolizes gang activity, was exposed in gym class.
Jessica Coffey, 19, was a senior at Riverdale High School until last week.
The assistant principal suspended her for ten days and she now has to finish school at an alternative learning center.
"Over here I have my father and my mother's names and then there's this one they're kicking me out of school for," she said. "It hurts. I want to graduate."
The tattoo in question is on her left arm.
It's a picture of two masks - one smiling, one crying.
She says she got it last year as a tribute to her twin sisters, but school administrators say it's gang-related.
When we asked her directly if she's ever been in a gang she answered simply, "No."
"She had the tattoo all last year. They never said anything about it last year," added her mother, Lisa Coffey.
Officials at the school district are refusing to comment, citing student privacy.
In the code of conduct, it states students are not allowed to have gang-related tattoos.
It's up to school administrators to determine whether a tattoo is gang-related how a student should be punished.
We tried to contact Riverdale's principal Tuesday, but our calls were not returned.
Coffey would have graduated last year had it not been for multiple surgeries as she battled skin cancer throughout her teen years.
Now, she says she just wants to go back to school to enjoy the things teenage girls dream of.
"I'm going to miss all my senior stuff - homecoming's coming up. I'm going to miss the football game and I already had a homecoming date and everything," she said.
She hopes the school district will hear her appeal so she can walk at graduation and, one day, be able to join the National Guard, the only "gang" she says she's ever been interested in joining.