DOVER, N.H. (The Blaze/AP) — A New Hampshire woman is upset that middle school officials confiscated her autistic son’s American flag because the rod it was attached to was deemed a safety hazard and, the mother claims, a possible “weapon.”
Theresa Stevens, of Dover, says her 12-year-old son, Shawn, brought the small flag to school to show friends. He had received it as a gift from a family friend whose son is in Afghanistan.
“When he saw how upset the mother of this boy is that’s going to Afghanistan, he wanted to do everything in his power to show support for her son,” Mrs. Stevens told WMUR-TV:
“He wants to bring patriotism back one person at a time, starting with his peer group and adults that have lost their way,” she added.
Stevens says a school official called Wednesday to say that school workers were concerned that the rod’s pointed end could have been dangerous.
“I got the phone call at 8:30 [Wednesday] morning,” she said. “‘This flag needs to be immediately removed from school because it can be considered a weapon.’ I don’t understand how an American flag can be considered a weapon.”
Dover Middle school Co-Principal Kimberly Lyndes told Fosters Daily Democrat it wasn’t about discipline or patriotism, but about safety.
“A student came to school yesterday with a flag that was rather large and didn’t fit inside the backpack,” she added to WMUR. “A staff member felt that it could potentially be dangerous because of the pointy end and took the item and let the student know and the parent know that they took the item and could pick it up.”
The boy was not disciplined in the matter.
Stevens says she wants her son to know he did nothing wrong. She says students routinely carry around sharp-tipped items, such as compasses and pencils.
“So can pencils, so can protractors, so can any of the school supplies that they give to these children, and their stance is, ‘Well, we don’t let them wave them around in class, and your son has autism,'” Stevens told the station. “Really? That’s your stance?”
“When somebody shows up with an American flag on American soil at an American school, that’s his First Amendment right to do so,” she added. “Just because he’s 12 doesn’t mean he doesn’t have constitutional rights.”