WEST SACRAMENTO --
Staff at Westmore Oaks Elementary School in West Sacramento sent Marquis Ashford's two children home Wednesday.
His 8-year-old son was sent home for wearing a red 49er T-shirt and his 8-year-old daughter was sent home for wearing a red jacket to school.
Staff says it's in violation of the district's dress code because some gang members are known for wearing red.
Colors, such as red, aren't allowed on campus.
But Ashford's children aren't gang members. And he says they don't even know what gangs are. His children are third-graders.
"And then you sit my children in an office all day, and deny them their education, for wearing a 49er shirt, he's only 8 years old, and my daughter as well," Ashford said.
But the Washington Unified School District says the school's staff did nothing wrong. They didn't target Ashford's children, as he believes. They say the kids simply violated the dress code.
"It takes the attention away from what a student might be wearing and it shifts their focus to what they're doing in the classroom," said Giorgos Kazanis, communications director for Washington Unified School District.
Ashford says the code is ridiculous for applying it to kids at such a young age.
"I don't like it. I don't like it at all. It’s not OK, by far what they did to my children. And I try to teach my children to stand up for what's right. So I went up there and I did it for my kids," Ashford said.
But considering West Sacramento has validated gang members, which eventually caused the city to impose a gang injunction, the district says reaching kids this early in life is essential.
"It's about certain practices and policies in place that will become proper habit later on," Kazanis said.
Ashford says he signed a paper to excuse his children from the dress code, giving them the option to wear a uniform or casual clothing.
But the district says it's only valid if it's signed off on the administration's side as well. And it only provides assistance to parents who need it when purchasing clothing. The color rules would still apply.