Point Boro's 'No Military Sashes At Graduation' Policy Draws Ire

You’d think that this was the one sash they wouldn’t ban.

A graduate was allegedly told he couldn’t wear his military sash at the Point Pleasant Boro graduation in June. And he was told he could be police-escorted out of the ceremony if he did, his dad said.

Parents and residents, as a result, are up-in-arms about the Point Pleasant Boro school district policy that bans graduates from wearing military sashes over graduation gowns.

The policy has drawn so much protest that even the state Legislature has gotten involved.

Assemblymen Edward H. “Ned’ Thomson and Ryan Peters announced they are drafting legislation that would require school districts to allow students to wear military sashes at graduation ceremonies.

“Young men and women who choose to serve our country should be lauded for their decision to join our armed forces,” said Thomson, R-Monmouth.

The bill would force schools to establish graduation policies that would let students joining a military branch wear official articles such as a sash.

The bill was drafted in response to a Point Pleasant Boro High School graduate who was told this past month that he could not wear a sash showing he had joined the U.S. Marines at a recent graduation ceremony.

“While schools will retain the authority to govern decorum at graduation, the students joining the armed forces are deserving of special recognition for their decision to serve our nation. Letting them show off their military branch is a simple way to demonstrate our gratitude,” said Thomson.

The protests boiled over at a Board of Education meeting last week when parents spoke about their anger over the policy.

William Borowsky spoke about his son, William Borowsky Jr., and how he was told he would not be allowed to wear the sash provided by his U.S. Marine Corps recruiter.

On Facebook, Borowsky congratulated his son and said “one door has closed and a new one has opened” for him as a United States Marine.

But then Borowsky directed his dismay toward the district, saying, “Shame on you, Boro principal and superintendent, for not allowing Billy to wear his sash (something he is extremely proud of) during graduation.”

“They choose to acknowledge academic achievement but not sacrifice to your country,” Borowsky wrote.

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“Despite numerous pleas from myself, his recruiter and our mayor, they chose not to allow him to wear the sash. I was also told if he tried to wear it he would be police-escorted out of the ceremony.”

Other families took to social media to show their displeasure.

Efforts to reach Superintendent Vincent S. Smith were not immediately successful.

But The Ocean Star noted that Smith, during the June 24 board meeting, reacted to the parents’ protests by referring to the Commencement Guidelines letter sent home to parents, which he said states, “Nothing may be placed on the graduation gown or cap.”

“As we always do, the item will be looked at,” Smith said in a follow up email to The Ocean Star, when asked if the board would be considering looking into drafting a new policy.

Lawmakers say they aren’t buying the district’s position, and they still can’t understand the reasons for it.

“Every year, I go to local high schools to honor students entering the military, and it really makes a difference when we show our support,” said Peters, R-Burlington, a former Navy SEAL who currently serves as a lieutenant commander for SEAL Team 18 in the Naval Reserve.

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