Eighth grader Tyler Carlin needed an idea for a history project. He chose to create a replica of the battlefield cross, which is used on the battlefield or at camp to mark the death of a fallen soldier.
Carlin told Fox News that his teacher knew he would be making the replica and said it would be alright. But when Carlin showed up to his Ohio school with his project — made from a helmet, boots and a Nerf dart gun — it was promptly taken away. He also said he was given a 3-day in-school suspension.
“I just sat in a room all day. An administrator thought it was stupid that I got this, so she brought me a doughnut and played cards with me,” he said on “Fox & Friends.” His attorney, Travis Faber, is demanding the school expunge the “ridiculous” suspension from the middle school student’s record and had asked the school to delay Carlin’s suspension — to no avail.
“We are greatly concerned about the message the actions of the Celina School District will send to our community’s youth,” Faber told WTOL. “He [Tyler] should be thanked for his hard work and dedication to our veterans and to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
Further, Faber told the media outlet that an Army staff sergeant was barred from speaking on Carlin’s behalf during a school board meeting.
The veteran, Janice Holdheide, attended Celina City School board of education meeting Monday night, but was prevented from speaking up for the 13-year-old, according to WTOL. Holdheide had heard about Carlin’s situation and wanted to stand up for the student who had attempted to honor fallen soldiers. But when she started to speak, WTOL reported, “the board interrupted her and said they would not hear what she had to say.”
Holdheide then took to Facebook to publish her prepared remarks.
“I fought for this great country, and I fought for this young man to exercise his First Amendment right. I have buried friends and comrades and survived the horrors of war only to come home and find such a disrespectful action taken by this school system in my hometown,” she wrote.
School board president Carl Huber told WTOL that he could not discuss student disciplinary actions with a parent or guardian’s permission and said in a statement published by the news outlet that he had informed Holdheide that the “board is not allowed to publicly discuss this matter,” when she was interrupted.
Huber also told the outlet that he had asked Carlin’s family to authorize him “to make a truthful and accurate statement about the situation.”
On Wednesday, the leader of Veterans Forever Inc. announced the group had created shirts to support Carlin, according to WHIOTV7.
“I just wanted this poor innocent kid to understand that his beliefs was correct that you should always stick up for a veteran and it’s a sad situation that Tyler’s now in trouble for trying to do the right thing for a veteran,” Craig Obringer, a spokesman for the group, told the media outlet.
The outlet reported that proceeds would go into a fund that provides flags and flag poles for veterans.