The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

14 March 2008

Mark Levin Takes On School District Over Skittles Row


Levin Listeners Shut Down CT School District's Phones

Like Saturday Night Live's legendary land shark, Mark Levin and his listeners have delivered a collective candy-gram to Connecticut skool officials who foolishly believed suspending a student over a bag of Skittles wouldn't lead to a nationwide backlash.

Under a crunchy district "wellness" (note the hippie terminology) policy, students attending New Haven schools are prohibited from buying or selling candy on campus.

From the AP:

Conn. Student Suspended for Buying Candy

Contraband candy has led to big trouble for an eighth-grade honors student in Connecticut.

Michael Sheridan was stripped of his title as class vice president, barred from attending an honors student dinner and suspended for a day after buying a bag of Skittles from a classmate.

School spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo says the New Haven school system banned candy sales in 2003 as part of a districtwide school wellness policy.

Michael's suspension has been reduced from three days to one, but he has not been reinstated as class vice president.

Superintendent Reginald Mayo said Wednesday that the principal was just trying to keep students safe, but that he would review the decision to suspend Michael.

Michael says that he didn't realize his candy purchase was against the rules, but he did notice that the student selling the Skittles on Feb. 26 was being secretive.

Enter a furious Levin, who directed the audience of his nationally- syndicated program to bombard the district with phone calls protesting their action. From the American Spectator:


Give props to legal eagle and radio host Mark Levin. At the opening of his show Wednesday, he highlighted the plight of New Haven, Conn., eighth grader Michael Sheridan, an honor student and school vice president who was suspended and stripped of his honors for buying a bag of Skittles candies from a classmate.

Levin gave out the phone number of the spokesperson for the New Haven school district, but asked his listeners to be civilized about the calling. The civilized part was easy. Getting through was another matter. Within ten minutes of the number's being given out, the New Haven school district's phone system crashed, as did its website.

Within an hour of that, the wheels were already in motion to clear Sheridan's name and restore his and the other student's good standing.

From NBC:

The principal of a New Haven, Connecticut school has decided to wipe out the suspensions of students who were punished for the sale of a bag of candy, the school district announced Wednesday.

Michael Sheridan, an eighth-grade honors student at Sheridan Magnet School, was suspended for one day for buying a bag of candy at school.

He was also barred from attending an honors student dinner and stripped of his title as class vice president.

A school district spokeswoman said Principal Eleanor Turner agreed to expunge the suspensions from Sheridan’s record and allow him to resume his student leadership post after meeting with his family and the superintendent

School officials said he was punished because he bought a bag of Skittles for $1 from another student.

Sheridan, 14, said he didn’t know buying candy was against school rules, but he said he realized something was strange based on the other student’s behavior.

And there's plenty of additional coverage found across the Internet, including here and here. Curiously, however, few are willing to give Levin credit for his role in undoing the suspension. Given the mainstream media's reluctance to admit to talk radio's influence (except, of course, when it is ruining the country), does this strike you as surprising?

In fact, when talkers focus like a laser beam on particular situations, they can have the greatest impact. Levin's exercise once again underscores the immense power this medium still carries.

FOR New England regional talk radio updates, see our other site.

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