Normally a story like this would be titled ‘Zero Tolerance Government Functionary of the Day: Micaela Bracamonte.” I say normally, because expelling an 8-year-old for wielding a paper gun is the kind of knee-jerk, I’m-sorry-that’s-just-our-policy reaction we’ve come to expect from modern public schools. But little Asher Palmer attends — sorry, attended — the private Lang School in Manhattan. Lang, as their web site describes, is “a progressive, independent K-12 school for high potential and gifted children with ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome, anxiety, sensory processing challenges or, simply, underachievement.” Asher, according to nypost.com, has social-behavioral issues, ADHD and communication problems. So you’d think a school like Lang — to which the Palmers paid $120,000 in tuition — would be just the place for a kid like Asher . . .
And it was, until the school’s founder and principal, Micaela Bracamonte decided a rolled up tube of paper that looks more like a pastry bag than a rifle presented a real and present danger to Lang’s student body. But there may be more going on here than just some garden variety Pop Tart gun stupidity. Asher’s father served in Kuwait during the first Iraq war.
As far as the toy gun is concerned, [Asher’s mother] said Asher, a first-year student, made it out of a piece of paper after discussing military weapons with his dad. His teachers told him not to point it at anyone, and he obeyed for a while.
The school claimed Asher also said he’d “kill’’ a girl in a separate incident — a typical argument between youngsters. While her son may have made the threat, Spadone said, people use the word “kill’’ all the time, and it shouldn’t be taken literally.
Is that really too much to deal with for a school that specializes in difficult, special needs, “twice-exceptional” students? Apparently it is if the kid is unfortunate enough to live with a one-time violent war monger.
“Asher is exactly the type of student Lang [School] is supposed to be serving. Why they did this doesn’t make sense,’’ his outraged mom, Melina Spadone, told The Post.
She was incensed that Principal Micaela Bracamonte told other staffers in an email that Asher “had a model for physically aggressive behavior in his immediate family.’’
Spadone thinks Bracamonte was referring to her husband because he served in the military during the Kuwait war. If that was the reason for the comment, she said, “I find it offensive and inappropriate.’’
So the Ms. Bracamonte — someone who “embrace(s) each student’s individuality, nurture(s) their gifts, and empower(s) them with self-knowledge, self-organization and problem-solving skills” — looks at little Asher and sees a budding Adam Lanza. And why not, since militarism and violence clearly run in the family?
To quote Cyril Lang for whom the school is named, “There’s nothing wrong with the genetic makeup of these students. It’s the educational system that’s declining. We are bearing witness to the triumph of mediocrity.” Pretty much says it all.