J.B. may be the ultimate example of the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) pledge to give up their gun when it is pried from their cold, dead hands. In the case of six-year-old J.B., his gun is his hand. J.B. this week became the latest child to be suspended for pointing a finger gun. In this case, the adults at the Bagley Elementary School in Jefferson County, Alabama believed that a finger gun violated their zero tolerance policy. We have previously discussed the lunacy of the zero tolerance policies under which teachers discipline children by exercising zero thought or judgment.
Jerrod Belcher says that his son was engaged in a game of “cops and robbers.” A notice of suspension shared with Fox News Digital states that Belcher’s son committed a “Class III” infraction on September 1 by “using his fingers to shoot at another student.” The fact that the district would put such an inane rule into the writing is particularly glaring.
Since then, districts have disciplined toddlers and children for this harmless game (here and here and here and here and here and here and here) while also implementing buy back programs for toy guns. Some teachers have actually called the police on finger gun felons. Even drawing a picture of a gun can lead to suspension.
Apparently, J.B. not only engaged in a game of cops and robbers but actually added “bang, bang” to the game. It is shocking that such a menace was allowed to remain free in our society.
This absurdity is reportedly the product of Donna Page, Assistant Principal at Bagley Elementary School, who was given the report of a finger gun and immediately began a disciplinary process against J.B. Rather than use a modicum of discretion and common sense to protect this child, the school proceeded with formal disciplinary measures for a “3.22 Threat” infraction.
One can only imagine school security officers yelling “Code 3.22” into walkie talkies as adults scramble to face the threat of J.B.’s fully loaded finger guns. After all, J.B. could imagine any calibre of weapon and has no limitation on reloading or ammo.
According to the Student and Parent Handbook for Bagley Elementary, Article 3.22 is “THREAT / INTIMIDATION (OF STUDENT)” includes “a threat to do serious bodily harm or violence to another student by word or act, cyber bullying, or intimidation that may induce fear into another.” Examples given are “a threat to kill, maim, or inflict serious harm; a threat to inflict harm involving the use of any weapon, explosive, firearm, knife, prohibited object, or other object which may be perceived by the individual being threatened as capable of inflicting bodily harm.”
What is striking about that rule is that it clearly does not fit a finger gun used in a game of cops and robbers. Yet, the school hammered this six-year-old because administrators prefer to suspend a child than exercise logical judgment.
This ridiculous use of zero tolerance rules will not end until administrators are held accountable. A few suspensions of staff would go a long way in restoring sanity to our schools.