VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - A 4th-grader at Pathways Elementary School has been wearing the same backpack to school every day since the first day of school.
He says no one had an issue with his “Black Lives Matter” backpack until Thursday when a teacher stopped him and made an issue of it.
“If you have a problem with what my child chooses to wear to school, then you need to call his mom,” Lisa Nola, the boy's mom, said.
Trayce Rinehart says he had just walked his little brother to the media center and was on his way to his classroom when a teacher stopped him in the hallway.
“He said, 'What does your backpack say?' I told him 'Black Lives Matter.' Then he asked me, 'Don’t you think all lives matter?' I said, 'Yes, but black lives matter too,'” the 10-year-old told FOX 35 News.
He says that teacher wouldn’t let up.
“Then, he said, 'Don’t you think that person’s life matters? My lives matter, your lives matter and other persons lives matter?' I said, 'Yes, but black lives matter too.' Then, I walked to class,” Rinehart said. “I felt like he was mentally attacking me.”
Nolan says her son, an honor student, is typically a happy-go-lucky kid. He was so emotional by the time he got to his classroom, it got his teacher’s attention.
“She asked, 'Is everything fine?' I said, 'Yes.' She said, 'Are you sure?' I told her the story and she said, 'OK,' and she asked me and my friend to walk up to the office so we can talk to the principal,” Rinehart said.
Nolan got a call from the school principal, making her aware of what happened.
“I asked the school for the teacher to formally apologize to my son,” Nolan said.
She says that hasn’t happened yet. She said she made it clear to everyone involved, while her son, Trayce, is young, he has a deeper understanding than most about what Black Lives Matter means.
“Trayce is a biracial child. He has a white mother, so he understands that all lives are important. And he acknowledges that. He also understands that at the present times, black lives matter. When everything happened with George Floyd, Trayce really started looking into this and taking it personal and wanted to know why and started asking questions. So when the backpack came online, he said, 'Mom, I want that.' I said, 'No problem,'” Nolan said.
She says she never imagined that an adult would chastise her son for that.
“It’s completely inexcusable. There’s no justification for it whatsoever,” Nolan said.
A spokesperson for Volusia County Schools tells FOX 35 News that this incident is being investigated at the district level.
Stay tuned to FOX 35 News for updates on this story.