WEBSTER (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – Two Massachusetts students wore shirts to school to remember the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, only to be told when they arrived that they would have to change.
Tiffany Elliot, like many parents across the country, struggled with how to talk to her child about the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14; however, she figured the best approach was the direct approach and sent her son to school with a shirt in memory of the victims.
Her son's school, however, did not feel the same way saying she was out of line forcing the kids in his elementary school to engage in a conversation that they may not be ready to have.
"Rest in peace, the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. And in the front is all the kids' names," Elliot told FOX 25's Crystal Haynes. "I think at this age, they are old enough to know."
Elliot said she had a very frank conversation with her first-grader last Friday.
"He said, ‘Mom, what would you do if that was me?' I said, ‘I don't know what I would do if that was you.' So he does understand what happened. He knows the severity of what happened. So by wearing that shirt, it made him feel proud that he knows what was happening, and he was supporting the lost kids," Elliot said.
"That is her right. And that is her privilege as a parent. And so I don't feel it is the school's right to take that privilege of parenting away and supersede on their behalf," Dr. Barbara Malkas, Superintendent of Webster Public Schools, said of Elliot's decision.
Superintendent Malkas said administrators in the district and health officials met over the weekend and talked at length about what to say to the children. They posted a note on their website and sent a note home to parents telling them that they would limit the information discussed.
According to the superintendent, many of the parents responded that they were grateful.
The decision weighed heavily upon Superintendent Malkas because she was slain principal Dawn Hocksprung's mentor in her PHD program and spoke with her at least once a week leading up to the shooting.
"She was very, very passionate about her work, and very passionate about her family, and I think that has become more and more apparent to the nation. I am reassured that my principal here at Park Avenue Elementary is making decisions in the best interest of her students in the same way Dawn did every day of her career," Dr. Malkas said.
There was one other student asked to change for the same reason and cooperated.
Elliot posted a message to Facebook asking parents at her son's school to make shirts and send their kids to school with them as well. She says there is more power in numbers.
Superintendent Dr. Malkas says the police will stay in place.
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