Bizarre Zero Tolerance on Guns
A fifth-grade promotion ceremony in Rancho Palos Verdes turned into a free-speech battleground Thursday, when students were asked to remove weapons from toys that had been placed on mortarboard caps because of the school's zero-tolerance policy for weapons on campus.
Each year, students decorate wide caps with princesses, football goal posts, zebras, guitars and other items to express their personalities and career goals. Cornerstone at Pedregal School is the only Palos Verdes Peninsula public school to practice the tradition.
On Thursday, before the ceremony, one boy was told he couldn't participate unless he agreed to clip off the tips of the plastic guns carried by the minuscule GIs on his cap. Ten others complied with the order before the event.
Parents reacted angrily, calling Principal Denise Leonard's decision censorship, but the Palos Verdes Peninsula School District defended her.
Cole McNamara and Austin Nakata, 11-year-old buddies who share an interest in all things military, said they put the toys on their hats to support American troops in Iraq.
"I was kind of mad because they just went over and clipped them off and didn't say anything about it," Austin said.
His father, Glen Nakata, said he was disappointed that parents were not approached or consulted on elimination of the "firearms."
"I felt they were keeping the boys from expressing their patriotism, their strong beliefs toward the military," he said. . . . .