School teaches mixed message.

Last week in Winchendon, Massachusetts another case of  “zero-tolerance” enforcement defying common sense, a fourth-grader Bradley Geslak was suspended from Toy Town Elementary School for bringing a Memorial Day souvenir to school.

According to a May 29, Telegram.com article, a uniformed veteran gave the 10-year-old two empty rifle shell casings from blanks used during the town’s Memorial Day celebration Monday morning.  Bradley gave one of the empty casings to his grandfather and kept the other as a souvenir.  The trouble began when he took his souvenir to school the next day. 

“He was just playing with it at lunch,” explained Crystal Geslak, Bradley’s mother. “He wasn’t showing it to anyone; he had it in his hand and was playing with it.”

A teacher saw him with the harmless piece of brass and confiscated it.  Ms. Geslak was then called at work and told to come and pick up her son, who had been suspended for five days!

Ms. Geslak arrived at the school to find her son in tears.  “I was totally shocked. I couldn’t believe this was happening,” she said.  “It was just an empty shell, not even from a real bullet.  A sharpened pencil would be more dangerous than this piece of metal.”

“He was so proud to have been given them.  His dad’s a veteran, his uncle’s a veteran, both his grandfathers are veterans.  Memorial Day is a big thing to us.  It’s a very important holiday and we have a big celebration every year,” Ms. Geslak said.

Ms. Geslak, who will be forced to miss work in order to stay home with her son, says she is worried about what having a “weapon-related suspension” on his school record will mean to his future.

To add insult to injury, the family says a school official told them that the shell would not be returned, and that the next step might involve assigning a probation officer to Bradley!  Yes, you read that right, a probation officer.

A young boy punished over a harmless souvenir.  By any standard, that’s just unacceptable.

From the Shcool Districts web site, thier mission statement:

Our mission is to enlighten, motivate, and educate all who pass through our doors.  We will provide a safe environment that promotes an appreciation of diversity and preparedness for the future.

This young man and his family understand the price of freedom, they actually celebrage Memorial Day as it was intended, not just as a bankers holiday.  They understand what it takes to be prepared for the future.  A piece of inert metal poses no safety hazard to anyone.  Of course that’s just my view, but then the mission statment say they will respect my diverse opinion???  Seems like a mixed message to me.

If you’d like to express your concern over this incident, please visit http://www.winchendon.mec.edu/.  You will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  To leave a voice message for Brooke Clenchy, Superintendent of Schools, please call 978-297-0031. 

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