"Gang related" Rosary beads?
Freedom of religion or a breach of school policy?
"They might as well suspend me for the rest of the year because I'm not taking them off," said Raymond Hosier, who turned 13 Thursday.
He's been wearing his purple Rosary beads every day since the start of this school year. It wasn't a problem, until Tuesday when the seventh grader says a school administrator at Oneida Middle School told him to take the beads off or tuck them in his shirt.
Raymond refused. Wednesday he was suspended.
It's not religion necessarily that's behind this. They were his brother's beads. Joey died five years ago. He was hit by an SUV while test riding Raymond's bike. Raymond saw the whole thing.
In addition, two weeks ago Raymond's Uncle Tom died from brain cancer. The 13-year-old says the beads represent the relatives he's lost.
"Beads are one method that gangs use to identify each other," Superintendent Eric Ely explained.
The district has had a blanket policy on beads for a few years now. Students can wear them, but they must be tucked under their shirt.
"We certainly understand any youngster's desire to commemorate something, but we also understand our need to maintain a safe environment," said Ely.
Raymond's mom Chantell supports her son all the way.
"To be honest, after having the meetings I just had to think it's even more ridiculous. We have freedom of speech and freedom of religion. This is his freedom of religion. I will take this as far as It needs to go," she said.