Nebraska School Officials Allegedly Ask Parents Of Deaf Toddler To Change His Signed Name Because It Looks Like A Finger Gun

There is a truly bizarre story about of Nebraska where the parents of three-and-a-half year old Hunter Spanjer have been told that their son is violating the school’s policy against guns in school by making his fingers look like a gun. I have previously written (and here) about the lunacy of zero tolerance rules, including the gun drawing and finger gun violations. The difference in this case is that Hunter is deaf and the motion is the sign language for his name which involves crossing his forefinger and index finger and moving his hand up and down. When the situation was explained to Grand Island Public Schools administrators, they came up with a solution that only a bureaucrat would view as reasonable. According to the parents, they were asked to change their son’s sign name. There is now a Facebook page (shown here) to let Hunter keep his name.

If true, this sets a new low in the blind and senseless application of these rules. I still remain amazed by the discipline meted out to kids using finger guns or drawing figures. However, the level of irrationality in this allegation is simply breathtaking.

Administrators in this area seem to relish the absolute application of these rules as if zero tolerance means zero thought. The assumption appears to be that “I cannot get into trouble by being too strict.” The wonderful thing about a policy described as “zero tolerance” is that it can excuse teachers from having to make logical judgments. For anyone to even suggest changing this boy’s signed name shows a complete disinterest in actual facts and equities of the case. Once again, it teaches our students to accept senseless and arbitrary authority — a dangerous lesson for future citizens.

Source: Yahoo

55 thoughts on “Nebraska School Officials Allegedly Ask Parents Of Deaf Toddler To Change His Signed Name Because It Looks Like A Finger Gun”

  1. Nick, I really don’t know who you are referring to, srsly, very few people that visit here are happy with the status quo be they on the right or left. Without specifics in your posting your tone struck me as overly broad and unfair.

    I think people here operate on more than one level simultaneously, I know that I do: what I’d like/what oughta’ be, what we have and an assessment that things could be a lot worse. I can argue (or rant) from any of those positions in just about any comment; which position I take just depends on how a posting strikes me and how I’m feeling.

    We are though in full agreement regarding Pete’s comment. šŸ™‚

  2. I am a seeing eye dog and there is a new seeing eye dog in our dog pack and his name is Hunter. We are teaching him sign language (we call it “paw paw”) so that he can stand in for the deaf guy dog. Coincidence. But we wish this kid well in life and hope that he learns to flip the bird when he goes by the Principal’s office at school.

  3. Mike A.,

    That’s right. Zero tolerance policies mean that administrators don’t have to use common sense and good judgment to make decisions–they just have to follow the rules. Makes life so much easier for them. If someone complains–all they have to say is: “I was just following the rules.”

  4. A moronic, thoughtless decision by people who are terrified of making rational distinctions.

  5. pete, LOL!

    lottakatz, Please reread what I said. My point is that the apologists for the status quo are conspicuous by their absence. I’m genuinely surprised they have not chosen to rebut the common sense spoken on this thread. I may have not been clear. As we all have to sometimes say, “It was clear in my mind.”

  6. nick, you must have read this thread with your opposite-glasses on. A quick re-read will reveal the error of your perception and generalized snark regarding the visitors to this thread.

  7. Signe, We have zero tolerance from mindless administration and “dumb ass” from union teachers. What I find noteworthy in this microcosm of the Turley blog, are the folks who support the staus quo of this failed bureaucracy. They scream @ any notion of a problem in the system, and are no where to be found in this debate. If they do appear the meme will be “bad parents,” The meme is not w/o merit, but is almost totally a diversion from their failure. The silence is it were.

  8. Apart from the zero tolerance nonsense as applied to a 3-year old’s fingers, I think some of these administrators need to sign up for a class in sign language

  9. @otteray
    taking the high moral ground while using these words is rich, or have you no humor?

  10. “Zero tolerance” means rigidity means no exceptions means “authoritarianism” means fanaticism. Stupid, ignorant adults. I sometimes wonder if I’m going to live long enough to see the societal attitude-pendulum swing back toward rationality and compassion where there are exceptions to every rule, especially the “remaining” zero-tolerance rules. You have the right to sign your name the way you want, kid!

  11. ron,
    Unless that was snark, you do know, of course, that the words “blind” and “senseless” have multiple meanings, such as the following:


    Unwilling or unable to perceive or understand: They were blind to their children’s faults. He was blind to all arguments.

    Not characterized or determined by reason or control: blind tenacity; blind chance.

    Not having or based on reason or intelligence; absolute and unquestioning: She had blind faith in his fidelity.


    Lacking all consciousness or awareness: a blind stupor.

    Destitute or deprived of sensation; unconscious.

    Lacking mental perception, appreciation, or comprehension.

    Stupid or foolish, as persons or actions.

    Nonsensical or meaningless, as words: This letter is either cryptic or senseless.

  12. Seems to me that at least one group of people missed their immersion in the chlorinated gene pool.

  13. The parents group should sing the song called The Name Game– to the Bored of Education. It would go:
    Hunter, Hunter bo bunter, banana fanna fo mutter,
    Fee fi mo butter,
    If the first two letters are ever the same, ya drop them both and say the name…

    Then everyone in the choir gives the Bored of Education the finger.

  14. I’d change his name to something that involved only one finger & didn’t look anything like a gun!

  15. I’ve said this before, and I will say it again. If fingers can be banned under ‘zero tolerance’, why aren’t they expelling all children with fingers? And firing all teachers and administrator who have fingers? You may say I am being silly, but I am no sillier than anyone who thinks a three year old’s fingers can be mistaken for a weapon, no matter how the child moves them. Oh, and doesn’t the capital letter ‘L’ look like a gun?

  16. I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance. This insane policy is based on the false premise that treating everyone the same is somehow fair. This is just example 5,592 of how false that assumption is. I’m keeping count.

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