Today I was alerted to the latest news out of Raynham by a fan–Betty Reed– who wrote the following:
” I was incensed when I read about this boy, prohibited from bringing his saxophone on the bus. It is the most absurd reason yet for not supporting music.”
Then I read the article and was equally outraged and frustrated. Let me know what you think the solution is, and let’s presume the boy needs the sax at home to practice, otherwise he could store it at school.
I say, if the sax does fit, you must not quit.
Here’s the article Betty sent:
Twelve-year-old Andrew DiMarzio loves to play his tenor sax. But when his bus driver told him he would not be able to bring his saxophone to school with him, Andrew decided he didn’t want to play anymore.
It was all of a sudden too much of a hassle for him, said his mom, Cathy DiMarzio of Raynham. But then he thought twice.
‘It would just be weird not being able to do what I like,’ said Andrew.
School officials say the instrument is a safety hazard in a school bus filled to capacity.
‘My understanding is that the instrument cannot fit,’ said School Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes, ‘which is unfortunate.’
But Andrew’s mom said the saxophone in its case fits under the bus seat, and is no more bulky than a full backpack. Also, her job rules out driving him to school – and, she said, the manager at the school bus company was ‘unprofessional’ and ‘sarcastic’ about Andrew’s plight.
‘(The bus company official) said next year, if we have the money, we’ll attach a trailer to the back of the bus,’ said DiMarzio, 51.
The dispute comes as the school district is trying to re-build its music program after years of budget cuts. DiMarzio said the situation her son faces is not going to help the department move forward.
‘They want to get the arts together … Well, how are we going to build it up if they aren’t allowed to bring the instruments back and forth on the buses,”’she said.’I feel that band is part of his education, and I think it’s up to the school to support that,’ she said.
DiMarzio leaves for work at 7:15 a.m. Bus number 9 picks Andrew up at 7:55 a.m. So if Andrew wants to continue to play in band, his mom will have to make other arrangements every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday to get both him and his saxophone to school.
‘Mind you, this is the same instrument his brother took on the bus several years ago,’ said DiMarzio.
DiMarzio said she received word from the Lucini Bus Line, Inc., and from Raynham Middle School officials that bus number 9 is at capacity. As such, no instrument larger than a flute or clarinet is allowed on the bus, according to rules DiMarzio has heard, but never seen in writing. Multiple calls placed to Lucini Bus Line, Inc., of West Bridgewater, to better understand the policy, were not returned.
Superintendent Forbes said the saxophone is a safety hazard in a crowded bus.
‘The school district always has to put the safety of the students first,’ Forbes said. ‘If we could help in any way, we would certainly transport this instrument. And I know that (Principal David) Thomson has offered to see if there is anything they can do to help at the school level’ Forbes added.
The saxophone case measures 31 inches by 12 inches and, according to DiMarzio, weighs less than her son’s backpack. Also according to her son, there are several empty seats on the bus, where the sax could ride.
DiMarzio said she can’t understand how it can be any more of a safety hazard than oversized athletic bags, or kids rough-housing on the bus.
‘The arts aren’t considered in high regard here,’ DiMarzio said of the school district.
DiMarzio said the school district has refunded the $225 she paid for her son to ride the bus. But it’s not the answer she was looking for. She wants her son, and his saxophone, to be able to ride the bus.
‘I’m not trying to cause trouble,’ says DiMarzio. ‘I’m trying to do what’s right for my son.’
Pat Riley, chairwoman of the B-R School Committee, said school officials have looked at several scenarios to try to accommodate Andrew, including keeping the saxophone locked at the school overnight, or finding another school bus with more space that passes through their neighborhood.
‘At this point, we haven’t been able to reach a positive solution,’ Riley said, adding she will continue to look at other options.”
(Amy Carboneau may be reached at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter @amycarboneau.)
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