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. <<<So what would happen if a foreign exchange student arrived and had a name such as Gunnar (Sweden) Gundar (Denmark) or Günther (Germany)? This name means Fighter, Soldier or Attacker. Should he be foreced to change his name also? According to the school’s rules the answer is yes.

    It doesn't even have to be foreign. My distant cousins' surname is "Gunn".

    The principal of the school has already stated that just saying the word "gun" is NOT allowed at that school and WILL get you suspended.

    So it is very obvious that all of my distant cousins' with the surname "Gunn" would be suspended from that school just for having the last name of "Gunn".

  2. <<<The school officials could have simply asked Hunter to spell his name.

    no, they would suspend him for that also since it still resembles a weapon and can't be pronounced without sounding like a weapon. "Hunter".

    The school principal even said just saying the word "Gun" is NOT allowed in that school. And WILL get you suspended. Well, guess what?

    My distant cousins' surname is "Gunn". You can guess what would happen if they all attended that school.




  3. Certainly the little hoodlum should spell his entire name out as opposed to the sign that is his name. And I would be in court having a legal name change to I m u s t s p e l l o u t m y n a m e b e c a u s e b e a u r a c r a t s f e e l i s h o u l d b e m a d e t o f e e l t h e n a m e m y p a r e n t s g a v e m e i s s o m e h o w s h a m e f u l h u n t e r , Oh and Every one involved in the case must start spelling(in sign) out his full name every time it is used

  4. OS, they hung Eichmann, but not with a gun!

    Zara, civilized folks prefer to hold up index, middle and ring fingers together, quietly advising others to “read between the lines”…


  5. Guard dogs and law enforcement dogs are often trained to commands in languages other than English. French and German are most commonly used. That keeps the bad guys from giving commands that might confuse the dogs. At any rate, the language of the commands needs to be something the locals would be less likely to know.

    1. I’m assuming that this innocent child uses ‘American Sign Language’ to communicate. I’d advise the school where he learned ASL to begin teaching the ‘Middle finger Salute’ to be used in Nebraska schools…….

  6. My first grade teacher was a German expat likely an ex Nazi who harassed me for being Jewish… reading this brings her memory up in my mind. Even though I have an advanced education my attitude towards education has always been dismal. I wonder why?

  7. Jeff’s comment about the language change seems to be in alignment as to what the school is now CLAIMING to be the case:

    However, I cannot help but think of a former row over language similar to the article below, which was where a French speaking blind student in an English speaking school in Canada was initially denied admission to the school because his guide dog understood French Commands.

    There was much outrage at the school’s original banning him from the school

  8. Remember we are only hearing one side of the story.
    It is possible the parents are correct.

    However, another possibility is that Hunter’s use of Signing Exact English (S.E.E.) is the issue. The school uses the much more common American Sign Language (ASL). It is quite possible that the school would prefer he use the language that is used and understood by the teachers.

  9. itchinbaydog, Bravo.

    rafflaw, “attack on teachers.” Please tell me where I attracked teachers? I think others have “attacked” teachers more than I. Curious how you focused on me. Trust me, when I attack there is no doubt.

  10. Nick,
    Your attack on teachers when this thread is about administration and school district decisions is way off base, to put it mildly.

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