School district upholds boy’s ‘finger gun’ suspension

By Josh Kaib | WatchdogWire.com

Coming soon to a community near you: hand control?

A Columbus-area school has upheld the suspension of ten-year-old Nathan Entingh for pointing a “finger gun” at a fellow student while playing.

The Columbus Dispatch reports the fifth-grader was suspended for three days due to Ohio’s ”zero-tolerance” weapons policy for schools.

In an interview with CNN, the boy’s father explained what happened: ”He was pointing it at a friend’s head and he said ‘boom.’ It wasn’t threatening. It was a 10-year-old kid playing.”

The school offered to downgrade the “offense” to a “volatile act,” but the boy’s family turned down that offer. They plan to appeal to the school board. If that fails, they may even go to the courts.

According to The Mirror, “The incident on February 26 was spotted by the class teacher and the following morning the youngster and his father visited the principal’s office,” upon which they were informed of the suspension.

School spokesman Jeff Warner says the school has had problems with fake gun violence.

“We’ve had a problem at this school,” he told CNN. “The boys have gone around fake shooting and making paper guns at class. It’s inappropriate. [Devonshire Alternative Elementary School Principal Patricia Price] has sent notes to parents for the past three weeks alerting them of the problem.”

But opponents of the “zero-tolerance” policy say a three-day suspension for a playful hand gesture is extreme.

Even prior to this incident, state legislators considered amending the policy. State Sen. Charleta Tavares introduced SB 167 to change the “zero-tolerance” policy.

A 1998 bill mandated all schools to “adopt a policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior, including excessive truancy.”

In an interview with 10TV after the “finger gun” incident, Tavares says schools need to be flexible.

“I believe we need to give the flexibility to administrators and educators so they can look at the circumstance, the child and behavior,” she said.

In the case of ten-year-old Nathan Entingh, administrators have been far from flexible, holding the line on the district’s “zero-tolerance” of weapons, even “finger guns.”

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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