Education Law

Imaginary weapon gets 7-year-old a real school suspension

Concerned about student violence in the wake of multiple classroom shootings, many school districts have adopted zero-tolerance policies in recent years under which children have been disciplined for displaying so-called weapons that obviously weren’t likely to inflict injury.

But the concept is being extended even further, as a recent incident at a Colorado school district demonstrates. Second-grader Alex Evans, 7, has been suspended for throwing an imaginary hand grenade on the playground during recess, KDVR reports.

The boy says he was pretending to be a hero saving the world and tossed the nonexistent weapon at imaginary evil forces in a box in order to save the world.

A written list of “absolute” rules for Mary Blair Elementary School in Loveland that is linked to the article prohibits “play fighting” and “play” weapons.

The list does not expressly prohibit imaginary weapons, and Superintendent Stan Scheer of the Thompson School District said district policy doesn’t either. However, he also said individual schools have the power to supplement the general student code of conduct, the Loveland Reporter-Herald explains.

“It fell under that set of local policy they have in the building, and it was shared with all parents in the community at the beginning of the year,” Scheer told the newspaper.

Alex’s mother, Mandie Watkins, said her son was “very confused” by the suspension. And, she added, “I’m confused as well, so it makes it hard for me to enforce these rules when I don’t even understand them.”

Last month, a 6-year-old girl in South Carolina was expelled after bringing to school “an Airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets” that was not operational. WLTX reported. Last week, the superintendent reversed the decision and allowed her to return to school.

Hat tip: The Mommy Files.

Related coverage:

CNN: “Pennsylvania girl, 5, suspended for talk of ‘shooting’ a Hello Kitty ‘bubble gun’”

WBRC: “Lego gun gets boy suspension threat”

Updated at 4:08 p.m. to note the South Carolina incident.

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