Pittsburgh School Suspends Kids for Making Pencil Slingshots

image101Pittsburgh schools have added another loony example of zero tolerance policies resulting in zero judgment. Five fourth-grade students at Fawn Elementary School have been suspended on weapons charges for making pencils into little sling shots to see who could shoot a paperclip the farthest. Principal Kathi Shirey (left) stands by the decision.

I have been a critic of these policies on drugs and weapons when they are used without logic or judgment by school officials. Obviously, no one disagrees with the need to aggressively prevent drugs and guns in our schools, but these draconian responses to innocent incidents are baffling. Pencil slingshots should be the subject of a stern warning and parental call — not a suspension.

Principal Kathi Shirey seems intent on not allowing thought or judgment to invade her decision: “Everyone uses pencils while in school, but you would never think someone would use them to create a weapon, but that’s exactly how the district sees it . . . It’s an object that could have caused serious injury.” They were shooting paper clips. They were not shooting them at students but just to see who had the best sling shot. Shirley insists :We took a lot of time to come to that decision and we really felt it was appropriate.” I actually would have felt better if this was the sudden decision without forethought because it indicates that adults can sit around and come up with a facially absurd response. It is not the kids but the teachers who need basic instruction and training.

Pencil slingshots are a common practice among kids and even adults with various websites showing how to make them.

For the full story, click here.

10 thoughts on “Pittsburgh School Suspends Kids for Making Pencil Slingshots”

  1. Oh, if anyone is offend I am deeply offended I should have been named in the list of people Named like MIKE S. and those that got special mention by JT. I as the newest, prettiest, smartest, Tallest, Nicest should have been named. I am hurt and I am going to cry.

    Not really I think this is good.

  2. Mike S.

    See that where the AR AND MR have to come together. I have thought of killing many people at one time or another. I just have not acted on it that I am aware of. So thats my defense and I am sticking with it.

    Consider the fee paid.

    Were you per chance speaking of that fat short green dumpy guy named Buddha who is not here to defensed himself. Well even if he was I am sure I could out Run him and since I am in Texas now I am damn sure I could out gun him.

  3. AY,
    The only gentlemanly thing to do would be to turn yourself in for all of those crimes whose SOL hasn’t tolled. I’d gladly do the same, but like Cheney in Viet Nam I really have other things to do. You, however, as an officer of the court have a duty to the system. Attorney/client privilege doesn’t exist here, but for a small fee I’ll keep my mouth shut, can’t guarantee these others though. Psst, watch out for that fat, smiling green guy I’m not sure you can trust him to keep quiet.

  4. Criminal Law 101. Mens Rea= The Mental Element. Actus Rea=The Physical Act. MR+AR=Crime. Now is it Pro Se or Malum Prohibitum. Thats the defining one.

    I have been guilty of alot of crimes just not convicted because I have not gotten caught and thank g-d the Statute of Limitations has run. What I used to tell my clients, was the only thing different between me and you. You got caught.

    Oh the youth is wasted on the Young.


    This is not to be considered an admission of any criminal acts in which the SOL has not run.

    I think we have an Attorney Client Privilege going on here, or at least I hope.

  5. I think this is going too far. I think there should be some evaluation of “mens rea” (is that what this is?) that the kids had malicious intent; after all, practically anything can be “lethal” when manipulated properly. Even a penny or quarter could be lethal if it goes down a kid’s throat in some silly game, like “how much money can you hold in your mouth”?

  6. Thats what I say. Including How Hard do you need to throw that block at the ceiling before it gets stuck and won’t come down? Then you got in trouble because in the olden days that was the hall pass.

    Yep, I think I got in trouble for that too. My butt spanked, (oh baby, I like it like that. Only Kidding) But I did not get charged with Malicious Destruction of School Property.

    Sounds like I should have been in Juvy from some of the things I did.

  7. Okay, my favorite thing to do in class was to fold paper into airplanes and throw them across the room when the teacher’s back was turned towards the blackboard (in days when those were still black).

    Nowadays such a kid could be charged with conspiracy for plotting a 9/11 style terrorist attack.

  8. Come on Principal Shirey lighten up. The study and investigation of projectiles, back yard ballistics, velocity and trajectory are appropriate for 5th grade boys.

  9. Well I was always in trouble in school anyway for not paying attention. Duh, the Principal, the Paddle and I became close acquaintances.

    Let meet see, those footballs made of paper-pointed edges, ruler with a thumb tack, rubber band and a dice-sling shot. Homemade sling shots and the expensive store bought ones. Pencil fights, I still wear a piece in my finger and one above the eye. Real Barlow knives. Thumb tacks in the teachers chair.

    All of this was before 5th grade. Well, went on the get Phd and JD. Sometimes when you grow up sometimes you don’t. I think that teacher have to have some individual discretion. Not arbitrary but the real exercise of real discretion. I am sure that there could have been some bad results, if it had not been for the good teachers. In my case one in particular.

    In K-12 it is very hard to suspend someone for weapons-the non lethal kind when they ain’t there.

    Truancy another topic.

Comments are closed.