It’s gotten to a point where even the liberal Philadelphia Inquirer expresses incredulity in its headline, which never mentions the “crime.” So what was it that prompted the powers that be at William P. Tatem Elementary School in Collingswood, N.J., to summon the men in blue to an end-of-year class party on June 16?
One third grader made a comment about the brownies being served. Another accused the first of making a “racist” remark.
The incident didn’t end there. The the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency was notified, and so were the child’s parents.
In fairness, the school administration was merely following district policy. In May, a meeting was convened among school officials, the Collingswood Police Department, and representatives from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. The upshot was that school officials were told to notify police of any incidents that could be considered criminal, including what Police Chief Kevin Carey called incidents “as minor as a simple name-calling incident that the school would typically handle internally.” The New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency was also to be advised of any such incident.
Superintendent Scott Oswald estimates that police have have been called to as many as five incidents per day over the last month.
Meantime, the mother of the accused child, Stacy dos Santos, says her son was “traumatized” by the overreaction on the part of all “adults” involved.
“I’m not comfortable with the administration,” she is quoted as saying.
I don’t trust them and neither does my child. 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.
Members of the community have launched a petition calling on the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office to “stop mandated criminal investigation of elementary school students.”