6-year old suspended from school for pointing finger like a gun and saying “pow”

The latest in zero tolerance overkill comes from just across the D.C. line in the People’s Republic of Maryland.

The Washington Post has details:

The parents of a 6-year-old Silver Spring boy are fighting the first-grader’s suspension from a Montgomery County public school for pointing his finger like a gun and saying “pow,” an incident school officials characterized in a disciplinary letter as a threat “to shoot a student.”

The first-grader was suspended for one day, Dec. 21. The family’s attorney filed an appeal Wednesday, asking that the incident be expunged from the boy’s school record amid concerns of long-term fallout.

The boy “had no intention to shoot anyone,” said attorney Robin Ficker, who described the child as soft-spoken, with no propensity for violence. “He’s skinny and meek. In his words, he was playing.”

The suspension came in a week when the nation was reeling from the massacre that claimed the lives of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — and left elected leaders, educators and parents debating how best to keep schools safe.

But it also comes as leaders in Maryland and a growing number of states are working to reduce out-of-school suspensions, which have increased greatly in the past several decades and are linked in

[…]
“They took the worst possible interpretation of this little child’s actions, and five years from now, if he gets into a tussle, they’re going to look back and say, ‘This is one bad little kid,’ ” Ficker said.

Montgomery schools spokesman Dana Tofig said he could not discuss individual students for privacy reasons. But in a written statement, Tofig said the suspension “was not a kneejerk reaction to a single incident.”

In disciplining young students, Tofig added: “We always make sure there is clear conversation with the student and parents about any behaviors that have to change and what the consequences are if that behavior doesn’t change.”

[…]

Responding to questions from the family’s attorney, school officials later offered more detail, responding in a letter that an assistant principal had warned one parent that the child’s behavior could lead to a suspension. At school, a counselor “had an extended conversation” with the child to emphasize “the inappropriateness of using objects to make shooting gestures,” and an assistant principal had talked to the boy about the “seriousness” of the issue, the letter said.

“Yet, after the meeting with the counselor and assistant principal, [the boy] chose to point his finger at a female classmate and say ‘Pow,’ ” wrote Judith S. Bresler, the school system’s attorney.

I seem to remember a similar case to this in the past few years. Also, several years ago an Arkansas boy was suspended for pointing a chicken finger and saying “pow.”

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Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in SC and DC.

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