SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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November 2, 2010

No horsing around tolerated at school

(Continued)

More than 2,000 people have viewed a video of the horse incident that Dan DePaolis posted on YouTube. Students can be seen walking into school, within inches of the horse, as Blute, dressed in a medieval tunic, leads the horse ridden by DePaolis.

A message at the end of the video reads: "Our quest was short indeed! I was suspended for two days and my squire was suspended for one. He must serve two hours of community service. Until he completes his community service, they will hold his test grades ransom. All this for having the audacity for having spirit on spirit day and riding in on a horse in Hamilton, Mass. A horse community on the North Shore of Boston only one good nine-iron away from Myopia Hunt Club."

DePaolis lives in Essex and attends Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School in the school choice program. His parents say the teen has been around horses and riding since middle school.

"I can understand (the suspension) if he was galloping around, brandishing a sword with kids jumping out of the way. But that's not what happened," Ron DePaolis said.

Ron and Julie DePaolis said they were pleased with a meeting they had with Hamilton-Wenham Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan yesterday. They hope to have the suspension removed from Dan's record.

The high school's student handbook contains no mention of horses or animals explicitly but has an entry on using alternative transportation methods.

A paragraph on page 51 reads: "The use of bicycles, unicycles, skateboards, scooters, wheeled sneakers and/or any other motorized or wheeled transportation devices in the school building or before, during or after school is strictly prohibited for safety reasons."

A Spirit Week bulletin on the high school's website lists several rules from the principal for the knight-themed day, including no weapons. Wearing armor was allowed, but helmets were to be removed in classrooms.

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