STOCKTON, CA - An eighth grader says his faith is under fire after school officials told him to take off his rosary at school.
Adrian Sanchez, 13, wears his rosary proudly over his shirt every day.
"That's my beliefs," Adrian said. "I believe in Jesus and I wear it as a symbol."
Adrian has been asked a handful of times to tuck the religious necklace inside his shirt at James Monroe Elementary School. On Thursday, the principal pulled him aside and told him to take it off.
"I thought that was wrong," mother Mandy Sanchez said. "He's been wearing it. He wanted him to literally take it off his neck and put in his backpack."
"I told him I'm not taking it off," Adrian said.
Adrian received this discipline referral notice and was given after school detention.
"He got punished for his beliefs," Sanchez added. "We're Catholic. And I don't think he should be penalized for that."
Dianne Barth, communications director for the Stockton Unified School District, said visible rosaries like Adrian's are against the dress code because they pose a safety issue.
"Many, many students wear rosaries. However, they are asked to wear them under their shirts or blouses because they can, and have been, interpreted certain ways by gangs."
"I don't think that has anything to do with gangs," Adrian said.
Adrian said he was not in a gang.
Stockton police said they have had some cases of documented gang members wearing red or blue colored rosaries, but haven't had any issues with brown ones like Adrian's.
His mother has pulled both of her sons from Monroe and transferred them across the street to Hamilton Elementary where she hopes his faith won't come under fire.
"That right there has been blessed by my grandparents," Sanchez explained. "So, it's a saint to me. It protects them."
Rosaries are not violations of the dress code at either the Sacramento City Unified School District or the Elk Grove Unified School District.