Those of us who are parents, who raised little boys who wanted to be Daniel Boone foraging through the wilderness, independent, capable and ready for adventure, have chills running down our spines. What if our little boys had slipped their cherished Swiss Army Knives into their pockets and wound up in reform school?
Zachary Christie recently joined the Cub Scouts. He was given a camping knife complete with fork, knife, spoon and can opener for camping trips. He was thrilled. Like so many imaginative 6 year olds discovering the magic of the outdoors and the excitement of camping, he probably wanted, like any good Boy Scout, to "be prepared." So he brought his camping knife to school to eat his lunch with. Suddenly his fantasies of being ready for anything life could throw at him, including a tuna sandwich and a cardboard apple juice container, came to a screeching horrible halt.
On Tuesday, September 29th, Zachary brought his camping utensil to school to use at lunch (spoon, fork, bottle opener, and knife). As he was getting off the bus, a teacher asked him what he was holding in his hand. Zachary showed it to her and explained why he had brought it... to eat his lunch. The teacher gave the utensil to the principal, at which point Zach was suspended from school pending a school district hearing.
Are they serious? Have they totally taken leave of their senses and tossed their own powers of discretion out the window?
I went to the Please Help Zachary web site and learned that Zachary......
is a smart, happy, outgoing child who plays Little League Baseball, is a Cub Scout, studies martial arts, is actively involved in his church youth group, and is actively involved in school activities. Last year he participated in the school talent show, the science fair, and the PTA "Reflections" Art Contest, for which he won first place in the State of Delaware for his film, "What Is My Job?" Zachary reads above grade level and has very advanced math skills as well.
And if that doesn't paint enough of a model student to you read about his parents, all three of them who seem to be demonstrating a child-centric family even with divorce and remarriage ... Zachary's
mother is the Co-President of the Downes Elementary PTA, the Director of the Youth Ministry for Skyline United Methodist Church, was the homeroom parent for his class, and a full-time Project Management consultant. His step-father was the director of the school talent show, producer of the school yearbook, and coordinator for the Downes Elementary Mom's Breakfast. His father is active and involved in Zachary's life, helps out with school fundraisers and appeared with Zachary in the talent show in June.
Isn't Zachary the sort of child that Delaware's Zero tolerance policy was put in place to protect? And aren't his parents, all three of them, just the kind of parents we want to support and respect?
But he is not being protected, he is being threatened himself with a punishment originally designed to manage children who are out of control in their behavior and a threat to their school mates.
The School District committee recommended that he be ... placed at The Douglass School, a reform school for juvenile delinquents. This is the same school where they place children who have severe behavioral problems and who are guilty of such offenses as assault and battery, rape, drug offenses, concealing a deadly weapon, and more.
Apparently those in charge of dispensing this new ruling have been relieved of the necessity to exercise any form of discretion. Because if they did, it would make no sense to put a good family in such a bad position.
His parents say that....
Since there is absolutely zero chance that we will allow that to happen, [ reform school] the only hope for Zachary being able to rejoin his friends at Downes Elementary is if Christina School District Superintendent Marcia Lyles or the Christina School Board intervenes to overturn the committee's decision.
Hopefully they will. OMG.