It's something that kids do all the time, make a gun with their fingers and pretend to shoot their friends, "Pow!" But these days, this can get you into serious trouble.
The unnamed 6-year-old boy received a one day suspension from the Roscoe Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md. for forming a gun with his hands, pointing at his friend, and saying, "pow."
Attorney Robin Ficker says that the suspension was unnecessarily harsh. The boy “had no intention to shoot anyone,” Ficker said, describing the child as soft-spoken, with no propensity for violence. “He’s skinny and meek. In his words, he was playing.”
According to the Washington Examiner, the boy's family received a letter from Assistant Principal Renee Garraway, in which the gesture was described as “a serious incident.”
The letter read, “[He] threatened to shoot a student. He was spoken to earlier today about a similar incident.”
The family apparently does not know what this ‘similar incident’ is and claims they have never been informed of any previous problems regarding their child and are appealing the decision.
Ficker said, “It just shows the overreaction. They could have called the mother in. They didn’t do that. They just said, ‘You’re suspended.’ Five years from now, when someone in Montgomery County looks at his permanent record, they’re going to see that he threatened to shoot another student.”
There was a conference planned to discuss the matter on January 2, when students returned to school, and apparently the ruling can be appealed within 10 days of the incident.
The school apparently thinks that the gesture was insensitive, coming shortly after 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. – 20 of which were children.
However, the 6-year-old probably did not understand the implications of his seemingly harmless action.
“He doesn’t understand,” Ficker told NBC4. “The law says he is not old enough to form intent.”
Dana Tofig, spokeswoman for Montgomery County Schools, told NBC that she could not comment on individual cases.
“Generally, in an incident involving the behavior of our younger students, we will make sure that the student and his family are well-informed of any behavior that needs to change and understand the consequences if the behavior does not change,” she said.
“And that’s especially true if the behavior is affecting the learning environment or how safe another student feels,” she added.
According to another spokesperson for the school district, parents are informed of incidents such as the above, and they said that the elementary school did not indicate any feelings of endangerment felt by the other student.