NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey high school senior joining the Marines was denied the opportunity to wear his military sash at graduation.
His parents tell CBS2 the school principal even threatened to have their son escorted out by police.READ MORE: Worker Hurt In Wild Brawl At Brooklyn Pizza Shop; 'Like A Looney Tunes Cartoon,' Witness Says
Graduating from Point Pleasant Boro High School was supposed to be a happy milestone for 18-year-old Billy Borowsky.
Joining the U.S. Marines has been a lifelong dream.
His sister served, and in the sixth grade, he even hung the American and Marine flags over his bed. His recruiter gave him a red sash to put his pride on display when getting his diploma.
His father, Bill Borowsky Sr. said a few days before graduation, the school told his son they would not let him wear the sash.
Principal Kurt Karcich told the family graduates cannot decorate their cap or gown – no exceptions.
“He said ‘well if I do it for the military I have to do it for all other groups and organizations that make requests,’” the father told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
“Here’s an 18-year-old kid that signed his name to an eight-year contract to serve our government, our country… put his life on the line for our freedoms and it was very disappointing. I really felt the administration was minimizing that commitment to this country.”
Billy’s parents allege the principal even searched his son before the ceremony, alongside two officers to make sure he didn’t have the sash.
The father told CBS2 the school official then threatened “if you do it you’re going to get removed from the ceremony.”
“He did the right thing. He respected the school policy and he wasn’t respected in return,” the senior’s mother, Lori Coe said.
The school’s superintendent Vincent Smith declined to be interviewed on camera, but said this is the school policy and it’s not changing.
Over the phone he told CBS2 Billy and another student entering the armed forces were recognized during the ceremony and there was a standing ovation.
“The ovation was nice, but the first thing he did was put that sash on after the ceremony. He’s proud of that. That’s like his badge of honor,” the teen’s father added.
New Jersey lawmakers Ryan Peters – who’s also a Navy Seal – and Ed Thomson are drafting legislation to allow all students entering the armed forces to wear their sashes at graduation.MORE NEWS: New York City Workers Must Be Vaccinated By Sept. 13 Or Face Weekly Testing, Mayor De Blasio Says
“They’re going to defend our country. That should be lauded not discouraged not discriminated against in any way shape or form,” Thomson said.