Second-Grader's Photo Project Denied for Including Stillborn Baby Brother

The boy's teacher told him he must redo his family photo project because it includes a picture of his baby brother, who was stillborn.

A simple class project that involved a family photo has caused major controvery for Ohio second-grader Nicolas Millsaps.

Nicolas included a snapshot of his family on an "About Me" assignment. The image featured Nicolas, his mom Cassandra Hess, and his stepfather Eric Hess, who was cradling Nicolas' newborn brother Noah in his arms. The apparent problem? Noah—who the family said was "born an angel"—was pronounced dead at birth last March.

"He was stillborn at 36 weeks," mom Cassandra said. "The cord was wrapped around him four times and his heart had stopped. By the time we caught it, it was too late. We deal with it every day, one day at a time. It's been extremely difficult."

Still, Cassandra wasn't at all surprised that Nicholas wanted to show his classmates the love he feels for Noah. After all, his nursery remains intact, and the family keeps his spirit alive through the baby photos displayed throughout the house.

Nicolas' second-grade teacher disapproved of the photo, however, and denied his project. "[She] told him that she was not going to allow him to have that picture there," his mom said. "That he had to redo it."

And the school's principal agrees. "Given the age of the children in the class, we do not believe the subject of the photograph was appropriate," said Cherie Kaiser in a statement to FOX 8. "This decision was made in consideration of the best interests of all students in the class. I fully support the decision of the teacher."

Cassandra—who is expected to give birth to a baby girl in March—does not, however, and said the project will remain as is. "If they want to grade him lower, then they can grade him lower," she said. "Because I refuse to make him feel as if he cannot be proud of his brother."

Preach, Cassandra!

I get that death is not a popular topic, and most people have no idea what to say to someone who has lost a parent or spouse, let alone a child. But on the flip side, not being able to share his love for his brother coupled with a lack of support may only add to Nicolas' grief.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website for more, and follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.

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