Discipline Report: Boy, 6, Suspended For Carrying Camping Silverware; Florida Couple Arrested For Washing Child's Mouth Out With Soap
Friends and strangers are rallying around the family of a Newark, Dela., boy who was suspended for bringing a camping utensil that contained a fork, spoon and knife to school.
Zachary Christie, 6, intended to use the utensil to eat his pudding in the lunchroom of Downes Elementary in Newark. Instead, he was suspended for violating a policy that forbids students from bringing "dangerous instruments" to school.
As a result, he may be forced to attend a school for children with behavior issues for 45 days for the offense.
While many consider that a ridiculous punishment, a Florida mother and her boyfriend are facing criminal charges this week for the decades-old practice of washing a child's mouth out with soap for using a dirty word.
The couple was arrested after an 8-year-old girl received medical treatment for an allergic reaction to soap. Wilfredo Rivera, 41, and Adriyanna Herdener, 32, allegedly forced her daughter to chew on soap for 10 minutes after she used an expletive, according to an article in Florida Today.The soap caused the girl's mouth and throat to swell so the couple took her to the hospital, where staff notified police, according to a spokeswoman for the Palm Bay Police Department.
The pair was arrested Friday and faces charges of neglect of a child and child abuse.
Back in Delaware, friends and family of Zachary are trying to make the Christina School District see that its harsh actions are having a negative impact on the youngster's well-being.
They have created a Web site, www.helpzachary.com, and appeared on television talk shows, including ABC's "Good Morning America," to draw attention to the district's "zero tolerance" policy, which treats Zachary's camping silverware as a weapon. They also are urging the community to attend a school board meeting this evening. Their goal is to have 10,000 people attend the meeting, according to the Web site.
Already more than 25,000 people have signed a petition supporting Zachary, his aunt, Nancy Imbalzano, told ParentDish.
The school district has been inundated with emails and phone calls, spokeswoman Wendy Lapham told The (Wilmington) New Journal.
"There have been some that are very threatening..," she told the newspaper. "They are telling us that we are idiots and if they lived closer they would come harm us."
The family just wants the school to use some common sense when deciding Zachary's fate, his mother said in the article.
"We shouldn't have to go to the press to get people to use common sense," she told the paper.
Zachary just wants to go back to school, Imbalzano told ParentDish. But he also wants to make sure no other child goes through a similar ordeal, she said.
"He feels like he's helping other people," she said.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.