SEDALIA — T-shirts promoting the Smith-Cotton High School band's fall program have been recalled because of concerns about the shirt's evolution theme.
Assistant superintendent Brad Pollitt said parents complained to him after the band marched in the Missouri State Fair parade. Though the shirts don't violate the school's dress code, Pollitt noted that the district is required by law to remain neutral on religion.
"If the shirts had said 'Brass Resurrections' and had a picture of Jesus on the cross, we would have done the same thing," Pollitt said.
Designed with the help of band director Jordan Summers and assistant director Brian Kloppenburg, the light gray shirts feature an image of a monkey progressing through various stages of evolution until eventually becoming a human. Each figure holds a brass instrument that also evolves, illustrating the theme "Brass Evolutions."
"I was disappointed with the image on the shirt," said Sherry Melby, a band parent who teaches in the district. "I don't think evolution should be associated with our school."
But other parents were just as dismayed that the shirts were taken away from students at the Sedalia school.
"Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?" asked Alena Hoeffling, who was furious about the decision. "If I wanted my children to be sheltered, I would have enrolled them in private school."
After practice Friday afternoon, band members piled the shirts on a table. Sophomore band member Denyel Luke said the reaction by some to the evolution theme was a little extreme.
"It's not like we are saying God is bad," Luke said. "We aren't promoting evolution."
The district will have to absorb the $700 cost of the shirts, which will be replaced as soon as administrators approve a design for the new ones.