The stories of official folly in attempting to ban weapons in schools seem to recur with depressing regularity, even if there's been a lull lately.
In past years, we have bemoaned several ill-advised decisions -- the expulsion of a 10-year-old boy by the Penn Hills School Board in 2006 for taking a paint ball gun to school, not to threaten classmates but innocently as part of a school project.
And who can forget the West Deer kindergartner suspended in 1998 for bringing a toy plastic ax to school as part of his Halloween firefighter costume? While that seemed to have set the bar for ridiculous overreaction, the news from Rhode Island last week was in the same league.
In Coventry, R.I., a school superintendent banned a second-grader's homemade hat because it displayed toy soldiers with tiny guns. David Morales, 8, of Tiogue School, chose a patriotic theme for a school project, gluing plastic Army figures to a camouflage baseball cap. But it was ruled that the guns carried by the toy soldiers violated school policy.
This absurd contention did not stand up to the criticism it naturally invited. The superintendent, Ken Di Pietro, has now agreed to work to change the policy. In an e-mail to The Associated Press, he said: "The event exposed how a policy meant to ensure safe environments for students can become restrictive and can present an image counter to the work of our schools to promote patriotism and democracy."
Yes indeed. The lesson here for all schools is that bad things happen when zero tolerance morphs into zero common sense.