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Toy soldiers run afoul of school's weapons ban

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Christan Morales said her son just wanted to honor the troops when he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and small plastic Army figures.

But the school banned the hat because it ran afoul of the district's zero-tolerance weapons policy. Why? The toy soldiers were carrying tiny guns.

Morales' son, David, 8, had been assigned to make a hat for the day when his second-grade class would meet their pen pals from another school. She and her son came up with an idea to add patriotic decorations to a camouflage hat.

Earlier this week, after the hat was banned, the principal at the Tiogue School in Coventry told the family that the hat would be fine if David replaced the Army men holding weapons with ones that didn't have any, according to Superintendent Kenneth R. Di Pietro.

But, Morales said, the family had only one Army figure without a weapon (he was carrying binoculars), so David wore a plain baseball cap on the day of the pen pal meeting.

Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio, retired commander of the Rhode Island National Guard, praised the school system for supporting the military. But he said he disagreed with the decision to ban the hat and hoped it offered a chance for the school to review its policies.

Centracchio said he intends to give David a medal to express veterans' appreciation that he would pay tribute to their service. - AP

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