Vera Bradley owes a debt of gratitude to one Skyler Davis, the 13-year-old Kansas eighth grader suspended for wearing one of its bags to class, as his story is bringing the purse purveyors national attention.
Skyler’s been carrying the colorful Vera Bradley bag to Anderson County Junior-Senior High School since August with nary an issue, until Wednesday when he was called into the assistant principal’s office for refusing to take it off. After refusing once again to take off the sassy satchel, Skyler was suspended.
His mother, Leslie Willis, is furious over the school’s decision, labeling it discrimination because girls are allowed to carry purses without fear of repercussion. Not so, says Anderson County Superintendent Don Bloome, who claims the bag rule applies to everyone regardless of gender and has been in place for at least 10 years.
“We strive to make sure we treat every kid alike and there are classroom rules we expect kids to follow,” Bloomed told KCTV5. “They can bring (bags and purses) to school. There’s no policy against that. But the classroom rules are that they can’t bring it to the classroom.”
Willis said she reviewed the student handbook and found no mention of Bloome’s bag order and said that if that is indeed the rule, it should be formalized in the handbook. Skyler’s brother, Dakota Haight, also came to his defense, arguing that girls are allowed to wear bags and short shorts, and that it’s “not right” that his brother got kicked out for his purse.
Thursday afternoon, Vera Bradley in tow, Skyler returned to school where he was subsequently disciplined yet again.
“He was pulled into an office, behind closed doors to tell him that he was never suspended for refusing to take off his purse, he got suspended for foul language,” Willis wrote in an email to KCTV5. “That’s not the story that [Assistant Principal Don] Hillard told me yesterday. Skyler is only 13 years old. He’s just a child. And if this isn’t bullying, I don’t know what is.”
She added that her son was also criticized by school personnel for going public with his story, though she says she taught her son to “speak freely about what’s bothering him.”
For now, Skyler is standing his ground, and unless he takes off his purse, his suspension will continue. The teen, however, has no immediate plans to do so, telling KCTV5, “It expresses myself and I think everyone else can wear it, so I wear it as well.”
Skyler’s mom wants to find “some compromise in this,” but it seems Vera Bradley has some ideas of its own. After Skyler’s story went viral, the bursa bursar offered some of its wallet wares to the fashion-forward…kid — I ran out of alliterations.
“Vera Bradley creates products that allow all of us to express our individual style,” the company said in a statement. “We encourage self-expression through color and design.”
Well, good for Skyler for standing up for what he believes in. Meanwhile, this reminds me of the time I wore a Dior clutch to school and got kicked out for refusing to take it off. Anyone care to encourage my self-expression? Oh, it also had $10,000 in it. I’d like that to be encouraged as well. Thaaaaaaanks.