Jesus costume gets child sent home from school

Friday, October 31, 2008 BY KATIE O'CONNELL

A Paramus, N.J. eighth-grader was sent home from school today and told to change out of his costume: They deemed Jesus Christ inappropriate.“We're a little stupified by this whole thing,” said the boy's mother, Kim Woinski.Jesus Christ was “one of the greatest men that ever lived," she added. "If he went as Abe Lincoln would they say he couldn't do that?"Alex Woinski, who already has shoulder-length brown hair, donned a long white robe with a red sash, a fake beard, sandals and a crown of thorns.“They would have let him wear the costume, but he had to get rid of the crown of thorns and the beard,” Woinski said.In order to do that, she said, Woinski had to leave work and pick her son up from West Brook Middle School so he could go home and shower.Woinski said other students who had inappropriate costumes were able to simply turn their shirts inside out or take off any offensive pieces. Superintendent James Montesano said he didn't know about the incident but said he believes the reason for doing so was most likely not because anyone was offended by the religious nature of the costume but that it may have been disrupting classes.“As much as we want to have our kids enjoy celebrations, whether it’s through school spirit week or something like this, the fact of the matter is we certainly are here for the central purpose of education,” said Montesano. “If students in any form are wearing things that are bringing too much added attention that disrupts us from an educational environment, then school administrators would make that decision.” The school year is only 180 days, he added, so it's important that youngsters are able to get the most out of each day of instruction, and a disruption in the classroom could impede that goal.Woinski said her son complied with the requests of teachers and administrators, without complaint, and called his mother to pick him up. He was home for an hour and a half before returning to school. When she went to pick her son up from school, administrators were unavailable to speak with her regarding the matter. But in an effort to comply with their requests she took her son home, she said. “It's not like he’s not a good student. The kid’s on the high honor roll,” she said.Woinski is Catholic while her husband is Jewish. Their son, who had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and has been studying Bible scripture, is interested in Jesus as an historical and religious figure, according to his mother. He wanted to translate that interest into a Halloween costume. Alex's older brother, Jason Riggio, said due to long hair and darker skin, Alex's friends already say his brother bears a resemblance to the famous figure, which gave Alex the idea for the costume.“We have both religions in our house, and he's learning about both. He wasn't poking fun at anybody,” said Woinski. “I think what it was was that he was getting too much attention.” from the North Jersey Record online

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