La Jolla Country Day student is asked to remove MAGA hat because it’s ‘offensive to our community’

La Jolla Country Day School Head of School Gary Krahn discusses an incident with a student who wore a MAGA hat to campus
La Jolla Country Day School Head of School Gary Krahn appears in a video in which he discussed his response to a student wearing a Make America Great Again hat to campus.

A student at La Jolla Country Day School was asked to remove his Make America Great Again hat because it is “offensive to our community,” Head of School Gary Krahn said in a video explaining the action.

In an email to staff, obtained and posted Nov. 18 by KUSI, Krahn said: “We also had a student wear a MAGA hat today. I have talked with that student, who now understands why that hat is offensive to our community. He will not wear it again. In addition, his mom said that she is embarrassed by his actions. She will fulfill her role as a parent. We will continue to grow as a community that sees and values the dignity of all people.”

Make America Great Again was the slogan for Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.

In the Nov. 19 video, Krahn said: “The First Amendment is very important to me. ... He has every right to wear that hat.” However, Krahn said, he talked to the student about “the impact it has on our community. That hat has a symbol of racism and hatred. We can argue about whether that’s true or not, but … in our community, there’s a belief that that’s what that hat represents.”

The decision to talk to the student about the hat “was not a political decision,” Krahn said. “It was a decision about dignity.”

“I wanted the student to know that his decision was going to have an impact on people,” Krahn said.

The student “graciously took off his hat,” he said.

The school’s dress code does not prohibit political slogans or hats on campus, though it states students may not wear hats in class.

“We’re going to continue to honor the First Amendment; we’re going to continue to be a community of dignity,” Krahn said. “Our students are going to become leaders in the community. I can’t think of anything more precious than to have them go out there with not only the knowledge but with the belief that all humans have value.”

Week of distance learning only

Krahn’s email to staff included a message sent to families Nov. 17 saying the school would shift from in-person learning to online learning the week after Thanksgiving — Nov. 30 through Dec. 4.

LJCDS opened for in-person learning to staggered groups of students Sept. 14 and has had most of its 1,127 students back on campus since mid-October — except for 150 to 200 who opted to remain in online learning.

“Out of an abundance of caution, LJCDS will transition to e-learning for all for one week upon return from Thanksgiving break,” the email stated.

The break from in-person instruction, the email said, will give the school time to test all students and employees for the COVID-19 coronavirus after Thanksgiving, based on information from infectious-disease experts that “we will likely see a spike in the disease two weeks after Thanksgiving in communities that do not take the necessary precautions.”

Testing is mandatory, according to the email. Students preferring to get the test through their medical providers are asked to provide the school with a copy of the results via email.

The email also stated that all students traveling outside California for Thanksgiving need to notify the school and self-quarantine in online learning for 14 days.

The school will enact similar procedures for the week after the upcoming winter and spring breaks, with online learning only and comprehensive testing mandated before a return to campus. ◆