MARYSVILLE — The Marysville School District and the Tulalip Tribes are having a conversation about how to react to T-shirts that are cropping up in apparent support of the shooter who killed four classmates in October.
The “Team Jaylen” T-shirts reference Jaylen Fryberg, who took his own life after shooting five friends in a Marysville Pilchuck High School cafeteria. The shirts were worn by several Marysville Pilchuck students at a school assembly April 24, marking six months since the shooting.
The shirts were originally created a few years ago, after Fryberg was diagnosed with Type One diabetes. The shirts feature a large blue O with smaller blue ribbons, international symbols for diabetes awareness.
Last week, some tribal members who showed up for their jobs at Tulalip offices wearing the shirts were sent home.
Tribal board chairman Mel Sheldon wrote a letter to district Superintendent Becky Berg last week asking for a district-wide ban on the shirts and similar items.
“This attire creates an environment that is harmful to other students who are trying to heal and recover,” Sheldon wrote.
The letter was posted online Monday by See-Yaht-Sub, the tribal-owned newspaper.
The school district has not enacted a ban. The students who wore the shirts to the assembly that day were asked to change, district spokeswoman Jodi Runyon said Monday.
“We have not banned anything but we are addressing any attire that could disrupt the educational environment or make students feel insecure or unsafe,” she said.
The shirts have not been seen at school other than at the assembly, she said. The school will continue to ask students to change if the shirts again show up on campus.
Before the shootings, the shirts were worn by people who participated in a diabetes fundraising walk. Some of the shirts were distributed at Fryberg’s funeral; it is tribal custom to give gifts at gatherings, and receiving gifts at funerals signifies guests taking away some of the family’s grief and pain.
A spokeswoman for tribal leaders on Monday said she was checking whether the Tribes were considering or had adopted a ban similar to the one they’ve sought from the school district.
Jaylen Fryberg killed four friends and seriously injured another before committing suicide. The police investigation into the Oct. 24 shootings continues.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.