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. So…in order for him to return to school, would he have to get rid of the weapon. Are they going to chop his hands off so he cant be “found” with a “level 2 lookalike gun”(the horror!) upon his return?

  2. Public schools, and society in general, should educate children on the responsibility that comes with fundamental rights, so that when they become adults, they hold affinity to not only the right, but respect for it. This type of stupidity and incompetence only reaffirms that the schools are socially engineering our youth into a new sociopolitical perspective, which pulls them away from what America is. Freedom takes responsibility, and when responsibility that comes with liberty is not part of the paradigm in educating out children, then freedom is lost, because adults were not trained as youth to handle it. Its easier and authoritarian just to suppress it.

  3. Someone needs to take their “Level 2 Look Alike Firearm” and pistol whip some common sense into their spineless PC correct hides

  4. What ever happened to ‘teachable moments’ in the school environment?

  5. Are they sure he wasn’t pointing at someone? Times have certainly changed since I was a child–one can be suspended or go to jail for playing or signifying a gun with the hand. They can be prosecuted for using politically IN-correct phrases or language. HAS EVERYONE GONE TO PARANOIA LAND OR WHAT!! STOP the nonsense!

  6. My point is, in that school they are taking no chances. I would guess everything about guns and weapons is discouraged there. They do no want a child to die. There should be a better way to do it, but they don’t have one. And nearly “zero correspondence” won’t bring that child back. I also submit every parent of a child in that school is imploring their child to make no reference to a weapon in school. Just think; no accidental injuries or worse. I was a parent of young kids not long ago. I can understand it.

  7. I did not say, BigFat, what the proper teacher response should be to a finger gun. All I asked is what would happen if my scenario did happen. The teacher condemnation would be huge. And the grieving parents would have every cause to ask why nothing was done.

    1. @ Lrobby99 “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?”

      Thank you for your response. I have quoted you in full here because I do not want to mis quote or mis understand your words.

      But, by my reading of your remarks, the implication you seem to want us to draw is that the actions of the teacher and the school are reasonable because of the possibility of the bad consequences like the one you envision in your hypothetical.

      If you are not arguing that the actions of penalizing the student are reasonable then what are you saying?

      I am arguing that the actions are very unreasonable because there is nearly zero correspondence between ‘gun play’ and future anti social behavior. And further, that if there are reasonable indications of anti social behavior then removal from school is exactly the wrong course of action.

      I am not an advocate of ‘gun play’ for children. But scaring ourselves with made up technical sounding terms like ‘type 2 look alike fire arm’ does not help us understand the reality of the situation or help us make good decisions for our children.

  8. We did the finger pistol real young. If the little cretin hasn’t evolved beyond that come classroom time, then just put a rubber band around his thumb and make everyone else fire it at a couple girls who fake death a bunch of times–it will get real lame real quick. Suspension is fine, but my way is better.

  9. Hey folks…. hold your hand up infront of your face… now fold the last three fingers against your palm… Bingo, you;re guilty!

  10. Amazing, that in the most ‘War Like’ country on the planet, we suspend a child for showing a ‘Finger Gun’….. wherever would our children get such ideas from? No ‘sex’ ALLOWED ON tv…. But someone gets shot or killed every 30 seconds or something like that…. Why would any child NOT be influenced to use GUNS????

  11. Time to repeal the Ohio law. But it will be difficult considering the legislature there might get hit by the “if we can save just one child™”lobby

  12. “If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never been blamed for any failure.”

    Translation: If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never be sued.

  13. Archie Bunker on Dr. Who with a finger gun:

    How to Address a Person with a PhD
    How to Address a Person holding a Doctorate

    1) Holders of doctorates who work in academia or research institutions use Dr. (Name) professionally and socially. Thus a PhD in biology doing research at the local university or lab probably uses Dr. and everybody thinks it’s right. Protestant clergy with doctorates typically use Dr. (Name) too.

    2) Holders of doctorates who work outside academia or research typically don’t insist on Dr. Neither a PhD in finance at a Bank & Trust Company nor a PhD in American history working for for Xerox is likely to insist on being addressed as Dr.

    3) In hospitals (and some other healthcare environments as well) there is often a practice no one except the physicians (medical doctors, dentists, osteopaths, podiatrists, veterinarians … ) are addressed as Dr. (Name). This is out of consideration for the patients who want to know who are the doctors and who are nurses, support staff and allied professionals. It can be confusing with so many people walking around in white!
    I have been told this makes for some unhappy PhD’s in hospital administration, physical therapy and nursing, etc. who might prefer to be addressed as Dr. (Name) too. It’s my understanding that all of these professionals might well be addressed as Dr. (Name) in other situations (teaching or consulting, for example). But for patients in the hospital, the practice makes sense.

    4) All that said, ultimately how one is addressed by others is up to the individual and usually everyone goes along. For example, if you and I meet a woman who identifies herself as Monsignor Alice I think … it is unlikely she’s a Roman Catholic Monsignor. And, it’s unusual that she has only one name, like Fabian, Rhianna, Sting, Cher, or Madonna. But we should say to her — Monsignor Alice, it’s nice to meet you. That’s what she says her name is. But, when she’s out of range, we can talk about her.

    — Robert Hickey

    (Dr. Address).

  14. “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?”

    If you really believe that pointing a level 2 look alike fire arm is precursor behavior indicating antisocial behavior then would not the correct, professional response be to give the child additional attention and counseling.

    Wouldn’t it be the height of unprofessional, irresponsible behavior to remove the child from the school by suspending him.

    I would argue that if the child is going off track then teachers and administrators fail to meet their responsibility when they remove the child from the school.

    Further, it seems to me that pointing a level 2 look alike fire arm might have several different implications in regard to the development of the child.

    If the concern for this child in this particular instance is that the child has dangerous social tendencies then the administration needs to do the analysis and make that argument. There is no indication here that the administration made that claim. On the contrary it appears that zero tolerance allowed them to remove the child without any analysis or understanding of the child’s social or psychological state.

    Zero tolerance does not lead to further examination of the actions of students and reasonable approaches to provide what ever support the student might need. Zero tolerance undermines that kind of effort.

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