School Choice

Mom Horrified to Discover Her 9-Year-Old Boy's Public School Removed His Teeth


Screenshot via WJZ

Nine-year-old Michael Flemming came home from school last week with three of his teeth missing. Not because he'd gotten into a fight, but because his public school's dental program had removed them.

His mother was not happy.

I'm angry about this," Shanda Flemming told WJZ. I don't think that it should have happened like that," says Flemming.

Baltimore City Schools is claiming that Flemming signed a permission slip, but Flemming says that she thought the school's dental program was just going to clean her son's teeth, not pull them.

Michael came home in terrible pain, crying from the procedure. It also caused him to miss the bus, and he had to walk all the way home.

Flemming told WJZ that her son was scheduled to visit the family's dentist the following week.

"I just don't understand how a school or a company can take it in their hands to do something like this to a child," says Flemming.

Never heard of schools maintaining dental departments? Me neither. But apparently a kid died of an infected tooth in Prince George's County, Maryland, in 2007—and ever since, Maryland schools have prioritized dental wellness. This does not seem like the best justification for putting public schools in the teeth-inspecton business, but okay.

Even so, it's crazy that the school thought it could remove Flemming's teeth without even calling his mom first. The school is not the parent.

This is the kind of insanity that unfolds when schools face no competition—and are free to disrespect students' and parents' rights. Incidents like Michael's ordeal are the best case for school choice: parents should have more control over how their kids are treated in the education system.

National School Choice Week, an annual event promoting the ability of parents and students to have greater options in K-12 education, starts today. Over 21,000 events involving almost 17,000 schools from all 50 states will take place over the coming days. Go here to get more information about events and data about how increasing school choice–charters, vouchers, educational savings accounts, and more–is one of the best ways to improve education for all Americans. As a proud media sponsor of National School Choice Week, Reason will be publishing daily articles, podcasts, videos, interviews, and other coverage exploring the ways in which education is being radically altered and made better by letting more people have more choices when it comes to learning. For a constantly updated list of stories, go to Reason's archive page on "school choice."