Anoka-Henn bans student from wearing rosary to support cancer-striken g'ma; say it's "gang sign"

Categories: Education, Gangs
Jake Balthazor.jpg
Balthazor, wearing the "controversial" rosary around his neck.
Fifteen-year-old Jake Balthazor's grandmother has breast cancer. She goes in for surgery today.

In the days leading up to his grandmother's operation, Jake has taken to wearing a rosary she gave him as a necklace. He's Lutheran, yet wears the Catholic badge "to support her."

But recently, school officials at Coon Rapids High School summoned Balthazor to the principal's office. They asked him not to wear the rosary again. "They think it's a gang sign," Jake told WCCO.

An Anoka-Hennepin School District spokesperson confirmed that the school asked Balthazor not to wear the rosary again. The district's dress code forbids "any apparel, jewelry, accessories, or matter of grooming which by virtue of its color arrangement, trademark, or any other attribute (as a primary purpose) denotes membership in an organized gang." Maybe district officials regard all religious groups as organized gangs or something?
Jake Balthazor gma.jpg
Balthazor's grandma (pictured) has surgery today, and Jake plans to wear his rosary.

Jake's father, Dave Thompson, said, "I don't know how anything with the church can be affiliated with a gang." More generally, we don't know how officials at the bad-PR-plagued school district could possibly think it's a good idea to lay the boots to a kid who is clearly just trying to support his sick grandma.

Thompson added: "[Jake's] opinion is: If he's wearing it, grandma's going to be OK."

Balthazor said he plans to wear the rosary to school today, but will put it in his pocket if schools officials ask him to.

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