MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- An outstanding athlete and student at Marshalltown High School has been suspended from playing three football games in the fall because his parents say the school misinterpreted a symbol of school pride -- as a symbol of white pride.
Now, the principal is accusing the student, Blair Van Staalduine, of being a racist. "We were appalled," Blair's mother, Cathy Van Staalduine, said, "We were appalled and so was he. Absolutely. Because the furthest thing from Blair is being racist"
Cathy Van Staalduine says her son was suspended after a picture of him was posted on social media making the letter “W” with his hands. The school apparently thought that was a racist symbol. But Mrs. Van Staalduine says the picture was taken during school spirit week when different grades had to wear different colors.
"The actual school chose the colors that each grade would be wearing. Juniors wore white. So Blair of course being active in the school dressed from head to toe in white," she explains, "Somebody took a picture of him with his white doing a 'W' sign because they were wearing white. Blair says if they were wearing orange they would have done an 'O'".
Mrs. Van Staalduine says she tried to talk to the principal and he said she was racist too. No one from the school district would comment citing student confidentiality. The Van Staalduines say they want the suspension reversed and an apology, or they plan to sue the district.