While they are arresting seven-year-olds in New York, South Carolina schools are expelling a six-year-old girl for bringing her brother’s toy gun into school. We have been discussing the steady stream of absurd actions taken by school officials under “zero tolerance” policies. For a prior column, click here. This is yet another example. This little girl picked up her brother’s toy gun. Rather than call the parents into the school and reprimand the girl, these school officials chose to expel her from Alice Drive Elementary in Sumter, South Carolina. It is bizarre that Principal Sheree T. Boozer (right) could not simply see a child’s mistake for what it is.
Yet, officials insist “Sumter School District takes any potential threat very seriously.” That’s funny because if they wanted to be taken seriously, they would not be expelling six-year-old with toy guns. Instead, they look like tyrannical clowns.
Naomi McKinney grabbed her brother’s toy gun without telling her parents for show-and-tell. Her father was told by the principal that his daughter had shown up with “a gun” at school and would be expelled. When he got there, she pulled out a clear plastic gun.
The family has appealed in vain and has been told that Naomi cannot be in the car when they pick up their other children because she is presumably a danger to the other children.
She has now been out of school for a month and placed on “Administrative Homebased Services” where she is supposed to “receive services through the homebased (sic) teacher.”
She is not alone in being expelled for a toy gun.
As an attorney and an educator, I am furious to read such accounts. It makes a mockery out the school system and shows a virtually moronic enforcement of these policies. What these educators are doing is avoiding any requirement of personal judgment or thought. These abuses continue because principals and school officials face no discipline for abusing a child in this way. They teach the students a dangerous form of authoritarian learning with the imposition of senseless and arbitrary rules.