Celina school board issues apology to veteran following art project incident

Celina student suspended | Fallen Soldier project

CELINA — The president of the Celina City Schools School Board has issued a written apology to a U.S. Army veteran, who was not able to give a statement during a school board meeting earlier this month, after a student was suspended for a “Fallen Soldiers Monument” art project.

“We thank you for following up with us and sharing the letter which contained the contents of what you desired to share with the Board,” a letter addressed to Staff Sgt. (Retired) Janice Holdheide.  “We apologize for our actions which offended you as we followed the guidelines in running our Board meeting.”

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The letter, written March 29, was signed by Celina City Schools School Board President Carl Huber and four other members of the school board.

Celina City Schools suspended a student earlier this month for making a “Fallen Soldiers Monument” art project, according to the student’s attorney.

Tyler Carlin, 13, a Celina Junior High student, was suspended for three days for what he believed was a teacher-approved art project that represented a “Fallen Soldier Battlefield Cross,” said attorney Travis Faber in a news release.

The monument was part of an ongoing project Carlin was doing for his history class that involved raising awareness for the sacrifices our past and present veterans give to our country, Faber said. The Battlefield Cross traditionally shows a fallen soldier’s rifle, boots and helmet.

Days before his suspension, Carlin received permission for this project and discussed specific aspects of it with his teacher, Faber said.

He recreated this monument by using a plastic helmet, a toy NERF “Dart Blaster” and a pair of children’s boots, which were secured to the Nerf dart toy with zip ties.

When Carlin turned in his project on March 5, he was told to go to the office. The district said the NERF dart toy was a firearm prohibited by the school, and Carlin was given in-school suspension for three days.

During the March 18 school board meeting, Holdheide said she wanted to share her feelings on the student getting suspended and talk about how she felt the young man was doing the right thing. She then stated she was stopped from sharing her response and was told that the school board would not be taking comments on the issue.

News Center 7’s Molly Koweek spoke with board president Carl Huber the day after the meeting.  He offered the following statement, which read in part:

“First, I would like to say thank you, to all our veterans who have served, are serving, suffered and even died for our country. Without their commitment and sacrifices we would not have this great country with all of its freedoms and opportunities.

Last night at the school board meeting a U.S. Veteran asked to speak about a topic regarding a student. Prior to coming to the stage to speak, she was informed that, “the board would not allow the discussion of any student, students family or discipline of any student.” This is to protect the right to privacy of student of the Celina City Schools.

The speaker was recognized and indicated that she was ‘here tonight to speak up for a young man who was disciplined …’ At that time, I again informed her, ‘The board is not allowed to publicly discuss this matter, please leave the stage.’”