Why A Comment About Brownies Led To Police Showing Up At This School

Matt Vespa
|
Posted: Jun 30, 2016 12:40 PM
Why A Comment About Brownies Led To Police Showing Up At This School

You’ve got to be kidding me? I mean, you literally have got to be kidding me with this story coming out of Collingswood, New Jersey. It appears that on June 19, an end-of-the-year school party turned into a social justice nightmare when one student, a third grader, at the William P. Tatem Elementary School made a comment about the brownies being served. Another student thought it was racist, the police were called, and the whole situation devolved into a ludicrous affair (via Philadelphia Inquirer):

The police officer spoke to the student, who is 9, said the boy's mother, Stacy dos Santos, and local authorities.

Dos Santos said that the school overreacted and that her son made a comment about snacks, not skin color.

"He said they were talking about brownies. . . . Who exactly did he offend?" dos Santos said.

The boy's father was contacted by Collingswood police later in the day. Police said the incident had been referred to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The student stayed home for his last day of third grade.

Dos Santos said that her son was "traumatized," and that she hopes to send him to a different Collingswood public school in the fall.

[…]

"I'm not comfortable with the administration [at Tatem]. I don't trust them and neither does my child," she said. "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."

The incident, which has sparked outrage among some parents, was one of several in the last month when Collingswood police have been called to look into school incidents that parents think hardly merit criminal investigation.

Superintendent Scott Oswald estimated that on some occasions over the last month, officers may have been called to as many as five incidents per day in the district of 1,875 students.

This has created concern among parents in the 14,000-resident borough, who have phoned their elected officials, met with Mayor James Maley, blasted social-media message boards, and even launched a petition calling on the Camden County Prosecutor's Office to "stop mandated criminal investigation of elementary school students."

The increased police involvement follows a May 25 meeting among the Collingswood Police Department, school officials, and representatives from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, where school officials and police both said they were told to report to police any incidents that could be considered criminal, including what Police Chief Kevin Carey called anything "as minor as a simple name-calling incident that the school would typically handle internally."

This wasn’t threatening texts or social media posts alluding to a school shooting or bombing. No one died. No one was going to get killed. No one was harmed until the police arrived to investigate who said something about the brownies. It doesn’t get more absurd than this, cops responding to 911 calls to schools because some 9-year-old said something about a baked good. Let’s calm down folks. There’s no need to deploy SWAT teams over a matter that could’ve easily been handled by the school. It’s crazy that this even was passed onto the state’s child protective services arm.

Who knew brownies could cause so much havoc.