God, what a cluster fuck. I hope the parents win every dime they're asking for. Might get a few people to get their heads out of their asses (since $$$ is the only thing they understand).
I DESPISE "zero tolerance" bullshit! [pissed]
Student with toy gun hauled into court; sues school district and police
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
By KEN THORBOURNE
The bright red-and-blue toy gun was intended as a logical accouterment to his bank robber’s costume.
That’s the way 11-year-old Daniel Treskunov saw things when he walked into Renaissance Elementary School on Friday, March 7, prepared for a special picture-taking session with his photography class.
How wrong he was.
At this point, the sixth-grader’s action has prompted a five-day suspension, a criminal charge filed by the Essex County Prosecutor’s office, an appearance by Treskunov and his mother in Essex County Superior Court, and a lawsuit filed against the school district and Montclair Police Department.
The fake weapon, innocently brought onto school grounds for a fun photo shoot, has left a path of destruction in its wake.
When The Times first wrote about this story a month ago, Assistant to the Schools Superintendent Kevin Salters defended the five-day suspension of Treskunov, arguing that the student had violated written school and district policy.
As it turned out, neither the district nor the school had committed to writing any rule that explicitly addresses fake weaponry.
The nearest a policy comes to addressing the issue is a clause in both the school’s handbook and district’s “Code of Conduct/Disciplinary Sanctions” that prohibits “possession of a weapon other than a firearm” on school grounds, the policy that Salters maintains Treskunov violated.
Renaissance Principal Charles Cobb said that he backed up distribution of the student handbook in his school with personal appearances in every incoming sixth-grade class, pointing out that “toy or plastic weapons” are prohibited on school premises.
Cobb said that Central Office officials made the decision to suspend Treskunov for five days.
Salters told The Times that the five-day suspension represented the bare “minimum” that the sixth-grader could have been assigned, given the infraction that he committed.
Unfortunately for the student, his family and school district officials, the matter didn’t end there.
Salters reported the incident to the local police, an obligation he said he is mandated to keep under a “uniform memorandum of agreement between education and law enforcement officials."
On March 20, Montclair police charged Treskunov with “possession of an imitation weapon on school property,” a violation of state law, according to Deputy Police Chief David Sabagh.
To answer this charge, Treskunov and his mother appeared before a referee in Essex County Superior Court last week. According to their attorney, Joseph Fortunato, Treskunov pleaded innocent and a followup fact-finding session with a referee was scheduled for May 23.
Fed up with a matter that, in their opinion, should have ended with a conversation in the principal’s office, and has snowballed into a criminal court proceeding, Treskunov and his mother, Magdalena Nmesh, have sued the Montclair School District and the Montclair Police Department.
Last Thursday, Fortunato, a Montclair-based attorney, mailed the Board of Education and the Montclair Police Department a “notice of claim,” stating that among other things these two agencies “violated claimants’ constitutional (federal and/or state) and or statutory and/or common law rights.
“The aforesaid actions and/or omissions were caused by the careless, negligent and tortious actions of the Montclair Board of Education, Principal Charles Cobb, Superintendent Michael Osnato, Assistant [to the] Superintendent Kevin Salters, and the Montclair Police Department,” the notice states.
The notice asks for $500,000 in damages, which includes “pain and suffering, medical and/or mental health counseling expenses, and counsel fees.” Fortunato said this figure could be revised.
As of deadline on Tuesday, school district officials said they hadn’t received the notice of claim and therefore weren’t in a position to comment on the lawsuit.
Last week, Osnato told The Times that he would have been satisfied if the matter had ended with the five-day suspension of Treskunov, a punishment he be-lieved to be appropriate.
“He got some people concerned,” Osnato said about the student. “We are in a time right now when people are afraid.”
Osnato singled out the Essex County’s Prosecutor’s Office as the agency to be held responsible for Treskunov’s court proceedings.
“I can’t control what the prosecuting attorney does,” said the superintendent. “I would have been alarmed if there was a sentencing issue here.”
Capt. Nick Castello of the Montclair Police Department told The Times that he couldn’t comment on the subject since a criminal case is pending.
“I am very concerned about the law that he is charged under,” Fortunato told The Times. “We may be making a constitutional attack against the law. Clearly he did not have a criminal intent. If toys are made criminal, then only criminals will have toys,” said the attorney, paraphrasing an adage about guns.
“The charge is absurd and the statute is absurd,” Fortunato said. “We plan a vigorous defense.”
Diana Autin, co-president of the PTA Council in Montclair and co-president of the statewide Parent Advocacy Network, also believes that the school district overreacted to this incident.
“I think that this trivializes real weapons,” Autin said. “This sends a message that the school isn’t concerned about real danger. This seems punitive. If the rules don’t make sense, kids are less likely to abide by them.
“Obviously this is not a child who had criminal intent. He doesn’t pose a danger to anyone,” Autin added. “I personally think it was an overreaction to suspend him from school. It certainly it is an overreaction to have him appear in court…It shows that when you have zero tolerance, you have zero common sense.”
Zero tolerance equals zero thought.
I guess that's all the thought those liberal New Jerkies are capable of. ZERO.
I hope the parents sue their ass off, and win BIG. Big enough to bankrupt the state.
Maybe the kid's "red and blue" gun came from Cavalry Arms furniture on his M-4gery. [:D]