Zero Tolerance and Common Sense

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Lttle David Morales created a patriotic-themed hat — by gluing toy soldiers to a camouflage hat — for a school project. His hat did not go over well. The principal called the boy’s parents and told them that the hat wasn’t allowed in school. The reason? The toy soliders carry toy weapons, and school policy forbids the wearing of images of weapons or drugs.

Naturally, much uproar ensued. David’s parents expressed their view (which basically boiled down to, “It’s a hat. Created to honor veterans. Why all the uproar?”), but ultimately abided by the prinicpal’s decision. The case, though, had already attracted national attention. Ultimately, David received a medal from Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, the retired head of the Rhode Island National Guard, who also met with school officials and asked them to review the policy. To their credit, the school officials did so.

“The event exposed how a policy meant to ensure safe environments for students can become restrictive and can present an image counter to the work of our schools to promote patriotism and democracy,” Coventry school superintendent Ken Di Pietro told the Associated Press.

Always one to seize a teachable moment, I showed a picture of the hat to my 9-year-old son. “It’s a pretty cool hat,” he said. I told him what happened. “What is wrong with those people?” he said. “It’s a little plastic toy, Mom. What do you think is going to do more damage, a little plastic toy or a pencil? But they allow pencils in school! There are thumb tacks on the bulletin board. Heck, you can do more damage with the rocks next to the playground!”

Methinks the boy has a point. What do you think?

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