Ohio Child Suspended For “Level 2 Look Alike Firearm” (AKA Finger Gun)

220px-gesture_thumb_up_then_down_forefinger_out_like_gun1We have another towering success of the “zero tolerance” rules applied blindly in our schools. Ohio school officials have finally captured and suspended Nathan Entingh, 10, after he pulled a finger gun out at school. That’s right, another finger gun suspension. While these cases have been widely denounced as insane, school officials remain undeterred and continue to hammer children with nonsensical actions. To complete this utter insanity, the family then received a letter informing them that Nathan had been found with a “level 2 look alike firearm.”

Nathan is a student at the Devonshire Alternative Elementary School. This action not only involved not only a teacher who reported it. The punishment was then imposed by Devonshire Principal Patricia Price.

We have previously followed the suspensions and discipline of students under zero tolerance policies that are used by teachers to justify zero judgment or responsibility. I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here).Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or even having Danish in the shape of a gun. Despite the public outcry over the completely irrational and abusive application of zero tolerance rules, administrators and teachers continue to apply them blindly. If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never been blamed for any failure. Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversals, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.

Price refused to answer press inquiries but the Columbus City Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said that the school stood by the action taken against Nathan, noting that “We’ve had a problem at this school. The boys have gone around fake shooting and making paper guns at class. It’s inappropriate. She has sent notes to parents for the past three weeks alerting them of the problem.” However, the parents say that they never received such a notice.

If there is unruly behavior in class, how about denying recess or sending a note to the parents? He is 10 years old and in the fifth grade. What is really striking is how administrators are not only portraying arbitrary action as a “rule” but dressing it up with this faux classification system of “level 2 Look Alike Firearms.

The lunacy shown by teachers and administrators has forced legislators to consider a formal law to curtail the zero tolerance policy. The officials cite a 1998 law that required schools to “adopt a policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior, including excessive truancy.” It is the type of ill-considered, poorly drafted law that should be unnecessary. Schools were already allowed to take action against such disruptions and could be held accountable for poor performance at individual schools. However, when the law passed, teachers and administrators felt empowered to stop making any logical decisions or, perish the thought, exercise professional judgment.

Nothing in the 1998 law requires blind, senseless actions. That was an interpretation placed on the law by teachers and administrators who are not being held accountable for such absurd applications. They are succeeding in teaching children that they must yield to arbitrary and capricious authority. The children are shaped in an environmental of petty authoritarianism, as discussed in this past column.

44 thoughts on “Ohio Child Suspended For “Level 2 Look Alike Firearm” (AKA Finger Gun)”

  1. raff, We’ll simply have to disagree on this. Tangentially, as was stated, using “Dr.” as a prefix unless you’re an MD is pretentious, no matter the discipline.

  2. Rather than focus on no tolerance for finger, lego, Danish, etc. gun symbols, schools should be demonizing violence of all types, including military violence and violence against animals.

  3. What would happen, just suppose today the kid makes a finger gun at some other kid he hates. The teacher and others see it, but the teacher does nothing. Tomorrow the kid brings in Dad’s .38 and shoots the kid he hates. Everyone will say the teacher failed to see the warning sign the previous day, will blame the teacher for a tragic death, and will ruin his or her career. Right?

  4. rafflaw: While I admire your defense of so-called educated persons, I’ve also met some pretty stupid edumacated people. A degree does not necessarily mature an individual.

  5. Raff,

    I agree with you.., in total…. But the only professional that it is proper to use Dr outside of the area of practice is Medical Doctor….. That is my current understanding….. I’m not sure if you have your LLB or JD….. But it’s not proper forum to use Dr outside of the classroom…. So, I think Bidens wife’s Phd use outside the classroom is improper….

  6. nick,
    your comment about a PHD in Education being less valuable than a BS in any other discipline is not only untrue, it is outrageous. A Phd in any discipline takes hard work, intelligence and discipline. To suggest that a spouse who has a Phd in education is stupid because of who he/she married is not only ridiculous, it is insulting to both parties. I have friends and relatives who have Masters and Phd’s in Education and they are intelligent and hard working. I have seen what it takes to achieve a Masters and a Phd in Education, and your comment demeans all who strive to attain that level of education in their respective fields. While I agree that the decision made by this administrator was an illogical and unnecessary one, it does not diminish the person’s intelligence or hard work. Besides, that administrator may just be following a stupid policy set by the Board of Education.

  7. Justin, I was a guard @ Leavenworth in my youth and ate there daily. Leavenworth had their own pig farm. The pork was the best I’ve ever eaten. You need to have good food in prison because it is VERY important to the inmates. Federal prisoners eat well, but none as good as @ Leavenworth. I put on 10lbs. All the bread and desserts are homemade. Virtually everything is from scratch. Kids get processed horseshit in schools.

  8. Justin, A PhD in Education does not even come close to equaling a BA or BS in any other discipline. The fact that Biden’s wife has the temerity to call herself a “Dr.” for having a PhD in Education tells you everything. You gotta be pretty stupid to marry that lying, buffoon.

  9. The education industrial complex is a powerful beast that is used more for child control (extended daycare) than education. Fat administrative salaries demand that teachers be paid less. Parents buy the ‘it’s for the children’ line and pony-up whatever tax money the schools demand. It’s always amazing to me that NYers biggest complaint is the level of taxes they pay, but each and EVERY year they vote to increase school taxes. Parents think that the increasing cost of daycare, I mean school, is fine, since it allows the parent to work more and spend less time at home..

    Kids are programmed to pass tests rather than taught to ask questions and challenge themselves or question the system. More gadgets, gizmos and sports facilities and less analysis, debate and creative expression.

    It may have been this blog, but I was reading someplace where someone compared schools to being managed more like prisons with strict rules, detectors, frisking, marching between locations, uniforms, etc. It seems that comparison is more truthful than not. But I would bet that a prison inmate would fare better pointing a finger than this child did at his school.

  10. The most important issue here is the credibility of authority. In the sixties and seventies and no doubt even today, kids were told pot and heroin were equally harmful. People were put in jail and had their lives ruined because of the unrelenting stupidity of worthless authority that was either pathetically mindless or pathetically irresponsible and lazy. Equally as bad when a youth tried pot and realized that it was less harmful than alcohol, lots of fun, and not dangerous at all, many youths went on to try heroin assuming that the authority that told them it was harmful was equally incorrect. This lead to and continues to lead to many deaths, crime, and ruined lives. The same is true for this imbecilic attitude the authorities are taking regarding weapons in schools.

    The pathetic politicians who coin phrases like, ‘No child left behind’, set test score levels and then leave the building are the ilk that cause more harm through their irresponsible actions than if they had done nothing at all. Wars on drugs, zero tolerance, etc are nothing more than cop outs in our society. Education means exactly that. Educate the children and maintain and build upon the credibility of authority. The child that gets suspended takes with him or her an understanding that those in authority are in reality removed from a reasonable reality. That child is done a disservice and risks becoming someone that spurns a realistic authority that has been developed to protect society.

    The administrators and petty politicians that enforce these nonsensical rules instead of teaching our youth, are the ones responsible for the crimes they mighty commit, the crimes their dangerous rules are meant to protect us from.

  11. It is heartening for me to see here how folks understand the destructiveness of PC. It must be defeated.

  12. Crazy…. Another case of PC gone wrong….. I imagine when I was in school… We’d be tossed out everyday….. I guess watching Dennis’s the menace is not PC anymore….. You know he played an Indian…. With the headband……

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