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YORBA LINDA : For Boy, Flap Over Costume Has Silver Lining

November 12, 1994|DANIELLE A. FOUQUETTE

Justin Newton wanted to be the "Great One," but instead he was just the "sent-to-the-office one."

The Bryant Ranch second-grader was disappointed on Halloween when he was summoned to the office and ordered to remove his costume, a Los Angeles Kings jersey sporting the number of his favorite hockey player, Wayne Gretzky.

But an assembly featuring the Kings' head coach, Barry Melrose, at the school next week should help Justin get over the sting of learning his hero's uniform is considered gang attire by school district officials and banned.

The flap over Justin's costume started when school officials sent home a note asking students to dress as their favorite sports hero for Halloween. The boy, whose room is decorated with Kings posters, donned a black-and-silver jersey with the number 99 on the back.

According to officials with the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, someone at the school mistakenly ordered Justin to take the jersey off.

"It was a mistake," said Karen Bass, public information officer for the district. "There was miscommunication at the school and we feel bad that it happened."

Kings officials felt bad when they learned that Justin thought Gretzky's jersey was banned because the hockey star was a gang member.

"We were pretty horrified when we heard that," said Rick Minch, director of media relations for the Kings. "We got on the phone right away to arrange an assembly."

Minch said Melrose will give two 15- to 20-minute motivational speeches.

"I think he'll touch on the issue of gangs, but mostly it will be about the importance of staying in school and doing well."

Minch said Melrose will bring something for Justin and that the boy has been invited to attend a Kings game when the season resumes.

"Mostly, we want Justin to feel better about being a Kings fan," he said.

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