A 10-year-old student in Ohio who pointed his fingers in the shape of a gun toward another student's head was suspended for three days last week, a spokesman with the Columbus school district said Tuesday.
“The kids were told, ‘If you don’t stop doing this type of stuff, there would be consequences,’” spokesman Jeff Warner told The Columbus Dispatch
. “It’s just been escalating.”
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Warner said that the warnings have included newsletters that have been sent home to parents.
Paul Entingh, father of suspended fifth-grader Ethan Entingh, said he believed the punishment was excessive and that an in-school suspension would have been adequate, and that no one had felt threatened by his son’s actions.
“He said he was playing,” Paul Entingh said, the Dispatch reported. “It would even make more sense maybe if he brought a plastic gun that looked like a real gun or something, but it was his finger.”
The other student apparently didn’t see the boy’s finger pointed in an “execution-style” manner but a teacher did witness the incident.
Nathan Entingh has reportedly never had disciplinary issues while attending Devonshire Alternative School where the incident took place.
Warner said the school’s principal, Patricia Price, had repeatedly told students to stop pretending to shoot guns at each other.
Nathan Entingh said other students had been caught making similar gestures but hasn’t been suspended, the Dispatch reported.
Similar zero-tolerance policies related to mock gun play have been adopted in the past decade in school districts across the country. The Ohio Senate education committee is continuing to hold hearings on a bill introduced last year by State Sen. Charleta Tavares, a Columbus Democrat, that would remove zero-tolerance policies that were set by state law in 1998, saying they lead to punishments that aren’t fair.
“Many of us on both sides of the aisle want to find something that will give school administrators flexibility so they can be reasonable, remain safe and keep students in school,” Tavares told The Columbus Dispatch on Monday.
In January, Obama administration officials urged school districts to modify their zero-tolerance gun-related policies, saying the punishments were unfairly punishing minority students.
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