9-year-old Anthony Gonzales’ future hung in the balance after, one day at school early in February, a toy gun was found in his backpack. For four years, Anthony had been been a student in honorable standing at Gates Elementary School. For this one incident, Anthony was expelled.
A family friend, Elva Maria Mendez, started a petition. By the time of a February 19th hearing about Anthony, more than 10,000 people had signed it. In early March, the Board of Education announced that Anthony was reinstated. The very next day, Anthony was, at long last, back in school.
Anthony more than deserved to be given a second chance. Someone had given him the toy gun on the weekend of the Superbowl after which he put it in his backpack and forgot about it. In school later that week, another student saw the toy gun in Anthony’s backpack and told their elementary school‘s administration.
Anthony’s mother was summoned to the school. It was only after administrators handed her Anthony’s backpack that she first saw the toy gun and immediately found herself thrown into immense worry about her son’s future. Would Anthony, at the age of only 9 years, be labeled a juvenile delinquent and every single future prospect — including his chances to attend college and get a job — be permanently affected? Could his entire life be changed because of a mistake?
Elva Maria Mendez, who had attended school with Anthony’s sister, started a petition to help him and his family. As Elva emphasized, Anthony is a young boy who’s still growing up, with a true “thirst for education.”
People from all over Illinois, the United States and, indeed, the world, signed Elva’s petition. Care2 member Michael Sheahan of Illinois asked for “common sense to prevail.” “You are treating this kid like he was a criminal,” another Illinois resident noted. “Yes, toy guns shouldn’t be brought to school. Expulsion over it is ridiculous,” Amy Nelson of Texas pointed out. “Anthony should be allowed back in school,” Care2 member Marion Turino of New York said. “Kicking this child out of school will probably bring more harm to our society than his one childhood mistake ever could have to the school,” an Illinois resident asserted. “Everyone deserves an education and a second chance,” Lee Murphy in the U.K. wrote.
You can be sure that it was a very happy moment when, on March 3, Elva told us that Anthony had been reinstated by his city’s Board of Education.
Huge thanks to the more than 10,000 Care2 members who showed their support for Anthony Gonzales. Even though so many who signed the petition were not from Anthony’s hometown, it truly made a difference to the Board of Education that all of you took action, stood with Anthony and saved a young boy’s future.
Photo via Care2