Grand Island Preschooler Asked to Change the Sign for His Name in School

By: Steve Ross Email
By: Steve Ross Email

Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.

"He's deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy," explained Hunter's father, Brian Spanjer.

Grand Island's "Weapons in Schools" Board Policy 8470 forbids "any instrument...that looks like a weapon," But a three year-old's hands?

"Anybody that I have talked to thinks this is absolutely ridiculous. This is not threatening in any way," said Hunter's grandmother Janet Logue.

"It's a symbol. It's an actual sign, a registered sign, through S.E.E.," Brian Spanjer said.

S.E.E. stands for Signing Exact English, Hunter's sign language. Hunter's name gesture is modified with crossed-fingers to show it is uniquely his own.

"We are working with the parents to come to the best solution we can for the child," said Jack Sheard, Grand Island Public Schools spokesperson.

That's just about all GIPS officials will say for now.

Meantime, Hunter's parents say that by Monday, lawyers from the National Association of the Deaf are likely to weigh in for Hunter's right to sign his own name.

Despite whatever rules and regulations may exist, some Grand Islanders we spoke with said they don't think it's right to make a three year-old change the way he says his name.

"It's his name. It's not like he's going to bring a gun to school when he's three years old," commented Dana Schwieger.

"I find it very difficult to believe that the sign language that shows his name resembles a gun in any way would even enter a child's mind," Grand Island resident Fredda Bartenbach reflected.

But for now, that's a discussion between the Spanjers and Grand Island Public Schools officials.

Grand Island Public Schools has released a statement since we talked with them Friday. A link can be found below.


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