Another school child suspended after making gun gesture, county rethinks weapons policy

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An 11-year-old was suspended for pointing an imaginary gun on his bus ride to school.

A sixth grade boy was suspended after he pointed an imaginary gun on his bus ride to school.

The 11-year-old Mill Creek Middle School boy had already served a day of in-school suspension, but his mother, Carin Read argued that he should not have a permanent record over the incident. His disciplinary referral reportedly read that he pretended to shoot another student on the bus.

“There was no threat,” Read said, describing her son as an honor student who has never been in trouble at school before this. “He’s been punished enough.”

Read filed an appeal of the suspension last week after the Calvert County principle denied her request to expunge her son’s record.

As gun sensitivity reaches an all-time high, schools continually overreact to similar situations. This is just one example in a long string of children who have been suspended or otherwise punished for making imaginary gestures.

Last June, a 14-year-old was suspended for 9-days after brandishing his finger at classmates.

Last May, a 7-year-old was suspended for threatening gestures with a pencil while making “gun noises.”

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Last May, a 7-year-old was suspended for threats with a pencil while making “gun noises.”

Last February, a 7-year-old was suspended for throwing an imaginary grenade during recess.

The Calvert weapons policy has been requested to undergo review by school board members, Joseph R. Chenelly and Kelly D. McConke. Chenelly said the policy was not a zero-tolerance policy, but appeared to be operating as one.

Chenelly hopes to revise the policy to incorporate such factors as intent and mental capacity into decision-making about school consequences. He also wants parents kept in the loop, being notified within 15-minutes when such allegations are made against their children.

Chenelly stated at least a dozen families have informed him of suspensions since late May that fell under the weapons policy umbrella, even though no actual threat was made.

In one such case, a middle-schooler was suspended after reading a hunting and fishing magazine during a free period because the back page contained an advertisement showing a fishing knife, Chenelly said.

In another case, a middle-schooler was suspended for not wanting to be a future victim, saying he wished he had a gun to protect everyone after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Taking positive steps towards change, the Calvert school system’s staff wrote up and presented a proposal Thursday to revise Calvert’s policy, making it less stringent on facsimile weapons. The public has 30-days to weigh in and the school board will take it up on October 10.

[washingtonpost.com]