Perry High dust-up had no heroes but one lesson - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Perry High dust-up had no heroes but one lesson

March 15th, 2019 development
Perry High dust-up had no heroes but one lesson

By David Leibowitz, Guest Writer

If you like your stories devoid of heroes, then the MAGA banner fiasco at Gilbert’s Perry High School is your kind of tale.

The story commenced on March 1 amid “Spirit Week” at Perry, with students asked to wear “Party In the USA” garb. What partying in these United States has to do with education I have no clue, but it turned into a great life lesson, so there’s that.

The condensed version: Some Perry kids dressed in “Make America Great Again” shirts and hats and even brought along a pro-Donald Trump flag. At lunchtime – as was inevitable and surely the point of brandishing the MAGA banner – a shouting match erupted between students. School officials, eager to prevent an altercation, told the kids to put away the banner, which they did – for a couple hours.

When the banner came out again, after school but still on Perry grounds, the school resource officer asked the kids to leave campus. They refused. When the principal stepped in, several students refused to give their names or show school ID.

Minutes later, an angry mom by the name of Jennifer Farriss showed up – toting her iPhone camera – and did what angry moms typically do in such situations.

She doused a simmering fire with gasoline.

Farris can be heard on her video calling principal Dan Serrano a “jerk,” though nothing on the video supports the school’s claim that Farris also dropped an f-bomb. The highlight?

It’s Serrano telling the mom, “Ma’am, I’m not going to put up with this stuff.”

“I’m not going to put up with it either,” says Farris. “You’re not able to tell my daughter to leave the school.”

Says Serrano: “As a principal, yes I can.”


By Monday, the story was national news, with a few dozen protesters gathering outside Perry to support the MAGA kids’ right to free speech and 26 Republicans in the State Legislature calling on Attorney General Mark Brnovich to investigate – something.

As an added very 2019 wrinkle, a video surfaced from last year. It shows a throng of middle school kids partying at Farris’ house, chanting lyrics from a rap song with an obscene racial slur.”

Farris told 12 News the video “got twisted around and made me realize the media only tells one side of the story.”

No doubt it was simply a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday celebration that got a little overzealous.

Not a soul involved with this story looks good. The kids we can semi-excuse, because they’re teenagers. They wanted to offend their fellow students. Mission accomplished. Back in the day, the flag-waving might have ended in a schoolyard punchout, but this being 2019, it ended in a mire of school policies, letters to parents, written media statements and one 10-day suspension.

As for the alleged grown-ups, to a person they succeeded in managing a nothing incident into a national controversy. School officials, risk averse in the extreme, overreacted to some lunchtime taunts.

Farris and her persecution complex posse seem to value political bickering and their 15 minutes of fame more than what they’re teaching their daughters and sons. As for the politicians demanding an investigation, let’s hope the Attorney General has better things to probe.

So what did we learn here?

We are a sensitive bunch in these times, quick to offend, proud of it and equally quick to take offense. No slight is too small to escape notice. No disrespect exists that cannot be topped by the next jerk.

Some people look at Perry High School and see a debacle. I look at Perry High and see the campus we call America.