Sunday, April 4, 2010


Caleb, my great-grandson, has always been a nice little kid. Well, he’s not a little kid any longer, since he’s now in high school, but in watching him grow up he just hasn’t been one of those kids you keep your fingers crossed about. He’s always gotten along well with other kids, been respectful of authority, and definitely not a brat! For all these things we are mightily thankful.

When he turned 5 he was excited about going to kindergarden. The district he attended had year-round school, so he started his first “track” in June. He’d been in school hardly a month before the Fourth of July holiday arrived, so his school was closed that day. In the town where he lived fireworks were still sold from roadside stands, like in the “old days,” and his mom and grandma picked up a packaged assortment that had some sparklers, a couple of Piccolo Petes and a few little boxes of caps – little coiled rolls that the kids could pop on the sidewalk with a hammer. It was no big deal – a few safe and sane fireworks to ooh and aah over, and it was done.

School started up the next day where it left off, but not two hours had passed before the school called home to advise that Caleb was in the principal’s office and someone needed to come to the school right away. My daughter, his grandma, was the closest so she hustled right over . The principal advised her that Caleb had been caught with fireworks in his pockets and according to the school rules he was being suspended for three days. Seems the night before he had tucked a partial strip of unpopped caps in his jeans pocket, and those happened to be the jeans he was handed to put on for school that day.

Caleb said he didn’t remember that they were in his pocket. He also said, when asked, that he didn’t know that it was “against the law” to bring caps to school. But my daughter, thinking that three days of suspension was overkill, nevertheless apologized to the principal for not knowing the rules and said it wouldn’t happen again. She brought the caps over to show me, and we just had to shake our head that our society was in such sad shape that little Caleb had to go through a three day suspension in kindergarden!

Just this week I read in the paper that a 12-year old girl in New York was caught “doodling” on her desk with a green marking pen. Was that wrong? Yes. Was it a permanent marker? No, erasable. What did she doodle? “I love my friends” and she named two of them. Since it wasn’t profanity did that make it ok? No.

So what happened?

She was taken to the dean’s office by a teacher and assistant principal and there they searched her jeans pockets, front and back. They called the police to come arrest her. The police did just that, taking her away from the school in handcuffs. She was detained for two hours in an enclosed room at the police station handcuffed to a pole. This has all been confirmed by the participants in the horrible charade. She was released finally. The school suspended her, and later she and her mother had to appear in family court, where she was given eight hours of community service and ordered to write a book report and an essay about what she learned from the experience.

I hate to think of what she learned from it. The New York City officials acknowledge that her arrest was a mistake, with a City Education spokesman saying, “Based on what we’ve seen so far, this shouldn’t have happened.” And what did the cops say? “Officers should have used better judgment. Even when asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail and discretion used in deciding whether an arrest or handcuffs are really necessary.”

I think she might have the last word, however. The family has filed a 1 million dollar lawsuit.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

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