At an end-of-the-year party at an elementary school in New Jersey, a third grader made a comment about the brownies being served to the class – a comment that a fellow student claimed was “racist.” As a result, school officials called the police.
When the police arrived at William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, the officer questioned the 9-year-old as to what exactly he said. Because of the incident, the “racist” student had to spend the last day of school at home.
Police contacted the boy’s father later that day to let him know what had happened and had referred the case to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The Philadelphia Inquirer explained:
The increased police involvement follows a May 25 meeting among the Collingswood Police Department, school officials, and representatives from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, where school officials and police both said they were told to report to police any incidents that could be considered criminal, including what Police Chief Kevin Carey called anything “as minor as a simple name-calling incident that the school would typically handle internally.”
The police and schools were also advised that they should report “just about every incident” to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Carey said.
The student’s mother Stacy dos Santos thinks the Camden County school and police completely overreacted. She told the Inquirer: “He said they were talking about brownies. . . .Who exactly did he offend?” Whatever the “racist” comment was, he wasn’t talking about skin color, but about the chocolatey dessert item.
The boy’s mother stated that the whole incident traumatized her son: “I’m not comfortable with the administration [at Tatem]. I don’t trust them and neither does my child,” she said. “He was intimidated, obviously. There was a police officer with a gun in the holster talking to my son, saying, ‘Tell me what you said.’ He didn’t have anybody on his side.” Dos Santos says she wants at least an apology from the school.
The boy’s parents intend on sending him to a different school this coming fall because of the way the school blew the incident out of proportion.
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