June 18, 2010 in Nation/World

School bans hat bearing toy soldiers

Michelle R. Smith Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

This image made from video shows David Morales wearing a cap he created to honor American troops.
(Full-size photo)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Christan Morales said her son just wanted to honor American troops when he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and small plastic Army figures.

But the school banned the hat because it ran afoul of the district’s zero-tolerance weapons policy. Why? The toy soldiers were carrying tiny guns.

“His teacher called and said it wasn’t appropriate,” Morales said.

Morales’ 8-year-old son, David, had been assigned to make a hat for the day when his second-grade class would meet their pen pals from another school. She and her son came up with an idea to add patriotic decorations to a camouflage hat.

Earlier this week, after the hat was banned, the principal at the Tiogue School in Coventry told the family that the hat would be fine if David replaced the Army men holding weapons with ones that didn’t have any, according to Superintendent Kenneth Di Pietro.

But, Morales said, the family had only one Army figure without a weaponso David wore a plain baseball cap on the day of the pen pal meeting.

“Nothing was being done to limit patriotism, creativity, other than find an alternative to a weapon,” Di Pietro said.

The district does not allow images of weapons or drugs on clothing.

Morales said her son was inspired to honor the military after striking up a friendship last summer with a neighbor in the Army. Banning the hat “sent the wrong message to the kids, because it wasn’t in any way to cause any harm to anyone,” she said. “You’re talking about Army men. This wasn’t about guns.”

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