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."

NEXT: Eat More Peppers, Live Longer; Eat More Grilled Meat, Die Sooner

School Choice National School Choice Week Public schools

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

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

  1. Wrong dental TOP MAN. /prog

    1. Maybe the dentist just watched 12 Monkeys and thought he was helping.

      1. Next on the hit parade:

        Removal of reproductive organs, w/o parental permission or notification!

        (“Medically necessary” sex re-assignments).

  2. OT: Progressive Pants-Shitting Continues

    One wonders whether any progressives reading the book will choke to death on the irony…

    1. Haha. They’re not buying it to read. They just want it on the shelf so guests will see it.

      1. Or else they don’t want anyone else to buy it.

      2. They’re waiting for the next Obama to come along so they can use it as a manual.

      3. Right next to their Piketty book.

    2. At best they will use the proggie cliff notes version, like when they talk about Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, which you know no prog has ever read.

      1. What is particularly sad about that is that 1984 is like what? 100 pages?

    3. And I sure they don’t get that the story is really an allegory and it was ghostwritten.

      1. And why do I keep writing I instead of I’m? Anyone, Bueller?

      2. Ghostwritten? ‘Splain, please.

        1. Cognitive dissonance should cause heads to explode but most progs lack the basic insight necessary…

        2. Briefly, after years of bad relationships with women (Julia), paranoia at governments, and attempts to get counseling, 1984 is a collaboration between him and his secret counselor (O’Brien). The novel ends perfectly, it is just as George planned out the end of his own life. So an allegory and ghostwritten.

  3. She fucked up

  4. 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.

    Always read the fine print, lady. In any case what the permission slip actually said is the crux of the issue. They may have been extremely vague about what “dental care” meant.

    1. Who pulls a kid’s tooth right out and for what? I been raising rugrats a little while now, I have never heard of any kid getting an adult tooth pulled out of their mouth.

      1. At least fire off a phone call, if it is a genuine emergency.

      2. I seriously doubt they were adult teeth.

        1. Nine years old? Other than wisdom teeth that haven’t come in yet, I’d be shocked it they were baby teeth.

          1. That sentence is a mess. I would be surprised if there were still baby teeth at that age. Maybe wisdom teeth were coming in early and they removed them as they were crowding the mouth (anecdotal, but just happened to a friend’s kid, about the same age).

            1. Not sure where you got that idea, but some of the baby teeth aren’t usually lost until age 10 and later. I’m sure a nine year old still has plenty of baby teeth left. Source: I have four kids.

              1. My kids must be mutants.

          2. My baby teeth were still falling out well past that age.

            1. I had a few into at least the 7th grade.

              1. I got my first teeth really late. Didn’t have all my adult teeth until I was 15. My first wisdom tooth just started coming in a couple months ago. I’m 30.

          3. My sister had to get baby teeth pulled around age 10 because the little bastards wouldn’t come out and her permanent teeth were growing in over top of them.

            1. I work with a guy who’s adult teeth NEVER came in. Still has his baby teeth. Never had tooth problems in his life.

              1. I find this …implausible, to say the least. He may be “having you on” , as the Brits say….

            2. My sister needed braces and our dentist didn’t want to put them on until all her baby teeth were gone, but the canines just would not come out. Finally they pulled them, figuring the adult ones would come in once those were gone. She was maybe 12 at the time? They never grew in, so when she was a sophomore in high school she had to have surgery and chains attached to the adult teeth to forcibly pull them down. I’m really glad I didn’t have her mouth.

        2. Children start to lose their deciduous teeth around age 5 or 6.

          1. Are their teeth made of oak?

      3. Was it an adult tooth? I scanned the article and didn’t see. I just assumed it was baby teeth to make room for incoming adult teeth. Yes, I know. Assumptions are dangerous, especially when dealing with idiots in public schools.

      4. What kind of dentist to you think takes a Baltimore Schools job? A dentist that couldn’t survive two minutes in the private sector.

        1. +1 pair of rusty pliers

          1. +1 Little Shop of Horrors

    2. And always keep a copy of anything you sign. Particularly, any thing you sign for the government.

      She’s lucky she didn’t get charged with child endangerment.

      1. Now that she’s embarrassed the district, what are the odds she’s left alone?

    3. Free healthcare!

      1. That was my first thought. I mean, come on! It’s fucking FREE to you, what did you expect – decent dental care?

    4. I am only being slightly hyperbolic when i say that during my 1 year of teaching in the US It was policy to call about a paper cut

  5. The school is not the parent.

    You’re right. The school is far more important and has more legal authority than a parent.

    1. +1 Melissa Harris Perry

      1. That’s Melitha


    2. It takes a village to yank out some teeth.

  6. I’m assuming baby teeth? If they were adult teeth, there will be a hell of a lawsuit.

  7. I like how the answer to a kid dying because his family couldn’t afford antibiotics was a new department full of staff to wrest teeth and power.

    That’s solve everything, that will.

    1. That isn’t at all what happened. I remember this case quite well. The kid was on medicaid and the mother couldn’t find a dentist who would take her on as a patient because of medicaid being a PITA about payments to providers.

      Eventually the child got very sick and they went to the ER. ER’s in MD doesn’t deal in teeth, but by that time, the infection was past a simple tooth abscess, and he was so sick, the little boy ended up dying.

      Eye exams and glasses, asthma treatments, and vaccinations were apparently a problem for parents on medicaid to acquire. Now, the health department goes around in the fall giving flu shots to kids whose parents sign a slip. Also, mobile eye and asthma clinics travel to schools to provide treatments to kids whose parents sign up. Childhood asthma is a large issue in Baltimore.

      The utter crap pile that is medicaid is what lead to the little boy dying. Instead of messing with that, the General Assembly funded stop-gap issues like mobile medical units.

  8. Government is just the name we give to the teeth we pull together.

  9. Bigger mandate, bigger budget, federal funds, expanded presence, harder to get rid of, self-justifying, etc…

  10. Jesus Christ, public school dentistry…it sounds like some level of hell.

    1. Well, it is in Baltimore…

      1. Jesus Christ, public school dentistry in Bmore, isn’t that the level where pedophiles and lawyers go?

        1. I’m sure these are the finest quality dentists who you would totally trust to work on your kid’s teeth.

        2. No the peds and lawyers go to the bmore public dentist that doesnt use pain meds

  11. It’s Baltimore. What more is to be said?

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

    I’m not going to collectivize Sandra here, but most residents of Baltimore are huge fans of big government and interference and control of lives by the government. Just wait a few years, Sandra, if that pisses you off. He’ll probably come home with his balls removed. Toxic masculinity, you know.

    1. More likely they will gouge out his eyes because of MALE GAZE.

      1. Wait, I thought that the male gaze were ok, it’s just the hetero… OH, that kind of gaze!

  12. “To be sure, dentistry is a noble profession that could never be used to inflict pain or torture Dustin Hoffman, but its proponents have approached these issues the wrong way.”

    If you want my resume Reason, just ask.

    1. I’m flexible on torturing Hoffman.

      1. He hasn’t had any trouble torturing us for decades. I say he has it coming.

        1. He was kinda funny in Wag the Dog.

          1. I knew a film student who got to visit the set of I (Heart) Huckabees. She said Hoffman was drunk for the entire production.

    2. Best onscreen dental torture -> Bill Murray, Little Shop Of Horrors

      1. It’s not torture if they like it. 🙂

  13. I for one am thankful for this government program imagine how many teeth a greedy for profit dentist would’ve pulled. He probably wouldn’t have used novocaine either to save money

    1. Bad memories. When I was a kid I had a lot of cavities and my dentist never used pain killers when he drilled them. I just thought that was normal – I probably didn’t even know painkillers existed for dentistry – so I didn’t say anything. I still wince whenever I hear a dentist drill.

  14. Is it safe?

  15. I’m sure the bottom line reason for this is Republicans refusing to properly fund the school dental program properly, so that they were forced to hire incompetents.

  16. So we finally have an answer to “what are these people trying to pull”?

    1. Or “what will government healthcare look like?”

  17. Scope creep isn’t just what happens when you don’t use mouthwash.

  18. Poor kid. I can’t begin to imagine what horror it is to have teeth extracted through one’s forehead like that.

  19. “The school is not the parent.”

  20. The Butcher Of Lyin’

  21. 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.

    This is the kind of shit that can ONLY fly in the public sector. I can’t think of a better argument for privatization.

  22. We had a dental program in our school, once a year with visiting dental hygenists. You know, where you had to chew those disgusting red tablets so they could show you what a terrible job you were doing? We also got free little dental kits. Starting us early on our addiction to swag.

    But yeah, no actual procedures were performed.

  23. Crazy.

    But it sounds like the mother gave the school permission and signed away without reading the documents.

    1. Hopefully that will teach her to not trust government. And even more hopefully that her social network will also learn from this.

    2. She’s lucky it wasn’t a software EUL, kid might have come home as part of a human centipede.

  24. you need to get out more Robbie.

    Every year the school district requires that we have dental forms completed by the family dentist declaring that “yes our sons are under care and all issues are being taken care of”. This has been occurring for quite a while.
    If we do not return those forms after three warnings, the kids will be excluded from school and I’d be in front of a judge.

    Within this process we can request a state-funded dentist to conduct the examination if we do not have a family dentist. I fully expect that this is what happened. The mom likely just had the state-dentist do the exam.

    Yes, the state shouldn’t be shouldering this responsibility. But, you might be surprised how many kids have severe dental issues because the parents are ignorant/poor/inebriated/abusive. It happens enough for the state to feel a need to fix it. Either you arrest the parents and charge them for abuse/neglect, or you do it yourself. Not much middle ground unless you are willing to let parents screw up their kids teeth for life.

    Highly doubt those were adult teeth. At 9 he probably has baby molars left. Likely they had bad cavities and the dentist yanked them early to avoid damage to the adult teeth. Pretty normal stuff.

    1. by “pretty normal stuff”, I mean from a dental standpoint. Only way a dentist is yanking adult teeth is if cavities had abcessed and the root was infected. If that was the case, the mother would be in jail for neglect.

      1. I have lived i several states where this is taking place.

        You are correct – there is no middle ground here. The State has no business mandating dental exams.

    2. It happens enough for the state to feel a need to fix it. Either you arrest the parents and charge them for abuse/neglect

      Or its merely a power grab by the state. The shitty parents could be left alone, it isn’t the state’s job to tell them how to raise their kids.

      We can look to Britain to see how state dental care works.

      1. +1 British smiles!!

  25. “…have prioritized dental wellness.”

    Uh, OK.
    Was the passive invoked? Did things happen? Was this written in the School of Social Justice?
    WIH does this mean in English?

  26. To be fair, we need to yank out the teeth of all the other schoolchildren as well. You don’t want some kids having an unfair advantage over others, do you?

  27. Nobody needs 32 teeth when children are starving


  29. “All your kid’s teeth are belong to us!” /Maryland Public Schools

  30. Uh, they were obviously deciduous teeth. At that age they are hanging all over the place. Don’t any of you remember this?????

  31. “You’re a rabid anti-dentite!”

  32. This is ‘freedom’ in the ‘modern’ world of Barack Obama, the GOP and Democrat establishments and much of the MSM. Sieg Heil. What did Obama spend for his vacations? $70 million? How rich are Pelosi, Feinstein, Schumer, Boehner and Kasich? What is the average wealth of a black Chicago family as compared to that self sacrificing mayor the rich, rich, rich Rahm Emanuel? What is it, 80 years of loving, caring rule by Democrats?

  33. Think of schools – not all, but some – as minimum security prisons, and everything falls into place. Principals used to be educational leaders. Now they are wardens.

Comments are closed.