CELINA, Ohio (WFFT) - A 13-year-old Celina, Ohio student is now gaining national attention after he was suspended for three days for a project he intended to honor fallen soldiers.
When Tyler Carlin was assigned a project at school, he immediately thought of our nation's veterans. He planned to build a battle cross.
"I got the idea from my dad's friend, which is like a grandpa to me. He always tells me about his war stories and what that means to him," Tyler said.
His teacher said he couldn't use an Airsoft gun, but he did get a Nerf gun approved. When he was finished building the battle cross with the Nerf gun, a plastic helmet, and his sister's old boots, he said he didn't get far before someone at school stopped him.
"We got down to class and they said I had to take this into the office and that I could possibly get a suspension, then they sent me back to class," he said.
The Carlins immediately called Travis Faber, an attorney.
"Initially, they said it was because he brought a look-alike weapon to school and caused a disturbance. After his parents took issue with the suspension, they're now saying he was suspended for insubordination," Faber said.
Tyler has since served his suspension, but he's gained support from Celina residents and local veterans.
"It was a monument that he brought, and they took offense to that. And I take offense to them," said Staff Sgt. Janice Holdheide.
When Holdheide heard the story, she decided to approach the school board this week, but said they didn't let her speak.
"I got my introduction out, and then they told me stop," she said.
But Carl Huber, board president, said they never asked her to leave, and the board respects all veterans. He released the following statement:
The Celina City School Board has requested a “FERPA Release Form” be signed through the family’s attorney to allow us to make a truthful and accurate statement about the situation. Until the school has received that release, the Board and its agents will not be making any statement that violates the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act or a student’s general right to privacy.
Tyler said he got an 82 percent on the project, but he and his family still want his record wiped clean and an apology.
"I just want it to be over with," Tyler said.
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