Mike Cameron was a casualty in the cola wars Wednesday, suspended from his east Georgia high school because he wore a Pepsi shirt on Coke Day.
“In my eyes, I didn’t do anything wrong,” the 19-yearold senior said.
The Coca-Cola-themed day, held Friday, was part of Greenbrier High School’s effort to win a contest run by the Augusta, Ga., bottler, a partner in education of the Columbia County school district. The bottler is offering $500 to the school with the most creative method of distributing promotional cards offering business discounts to students.
The school decided to integrate Coca-Cola into class instruction and to invite company executives as guest speakers. The student body gathered outside to spell “Coke” for a photo.
Principal Gloria Hamilton said Cameron “disrupted” the picture-taking by wearing a Pepsi shirt and showed disrespect for the visiting Coke executives. She ordered a one-day, in-school suspension, which Cameron appealed. When he lost the appeal, he opted to take an in-home suspension.
Civil rights advocates are calling the suspension an “abuse of authority.”
“Basically, it’s pimping our kids,” said Teresa Nelson, director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Atlanta. “Is it worth $500 for students to be out there hustling Coke?”