Thursday, March 13, 2008

How School Is Like Jail

A Reader Comments:
The issues are candy in schools and whether students are talking smack on their blogs? What does this say about the management?

Editor's Note:

The school system even has a paid mouthpiece to spew tripe and propaganda ...

Young candy buyer finds penalty unduly bitter

By Elizabeth Benton
New Haven Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Sheridan Communications and Technology Middle School eighth-grader Michael Sheridan was suspended from school for three days, barred from attending an honors student dinner and stripped of his title of class vice president.

His offense?

He bought a bag of Skittles.

The punishment was meted out because the New Haven school system banned candy sales and fundraisers in 2003 as part of the districtwide school wellness policy.

"There are no candy sales allowed in schools, period," said school spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo.

Sullivan-DeCarlo said, while candy sales are strictly prohibited, there could be some that slip through.

Michael's mother, Shelli Sheridan, is lobbying to reduce her son's punishment, claiming he's a top student with no previous disciplinary problems. According to Shelli Sheridan, the student who sold the candy, whom she did not identify, also was suspended.

"Why did we go to that extreme?" she said.

While Michael's suspension was reduced to one day, he has yet to be reinstated as class vice president, she said.

"It's too much. It's too unfair," Shelli Sheridan said. "He's never even had a detention."

Michael Sheridan claims he was in a school hallway after lunch Feb. 26 when a classmate asked if he wanted some candy. The student had a lunch box filled with candy and a wad of money, he said.

While Michael said he was unaware the sale was against school policy, he admitted the student selling it "was being secretive." When a school administrator noticed the transaction, Michael said the student "threw the candy." He said he pocketed the Skittles, still not sure anything was wrong.

Michael said the administrator asked to see the contents of his pockets. At that moment, Michael said he realized he was in trouble.

According to Sullivan-DeCarlo, Sheridan School had a problem with candy fundraisers last fall, and Principal Eleanor Turner "made it clear for
months this was not to happen."

Turner had repeatedly warned students that she would not allow any candy to be sold in schools, nor did she want money changing hands in school, said Sullivan-DeCarlo. She said it was her understanding that the student was suspended for insubordination, which is what the district considered the candy exchange.

Aside from the nutrition issue, Sullivan-DeCarlo maintained the money students carry presents a security concern.

A copy of the district's policy given to the New Haven Register Tuesday says that "no candy or junk food fundraisers will be allowed on school grounds" and that only "healthy snacks will be sold in vending machines selling food products." It also prohibits bake sales and other food sales during school hours. The policy does not address snacks shared between students at school when no money changes hands.

Turner referred all comment on the case to Sullivan-DeCarlo.

*Elizabeth Benton can be reached at 789-5714 or*

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