Ohio Child Suspended for "Finger Gun"; New Virginia Bill Gives School Administrators Leeway
Pittsylvania Co., VA - A fifth-grader in Ohio got suspended from school for three days for pretending to shoot a classmate with his fingers.
"Why his punishment was this excessive because I've known these kids around here in school nowadays that get in fights and they aren't suspended for that long, " said the Nathan Entingh, the boy's father.Entingh says he was "just playing around."
School officials adopted zero tolerance policies after all the latest school shootings.
"I understand the sensitivity at schools nowadays with guns and stuff, but this wasn't a toy gun, it wasn't a look alike gun. It was his hand, " Entingh said.He believes the school went too far. We sat down with the Superintendent of Pittsylvania County Schools to see how potentially threatening behavior is handled there.
"Our principals contact me on each and every occasion and we have a discussion about that particular incident, " said Superintendent James McDaniel.
McDaniel says the schools already take a common sense approach to behavioral actions.
"We look at each case on an individual basis, and we then try to apply common sense to our response, " McDaniel said.
No student has ever been suspended for a finger gun in Pittsylvania County, but he says many situations aren't black and white.
Toy guns sometimes prove to be a gray area - ranging from colorful nerf shooters to pellet guns that look just like the real thing.
He says he takes threats to student safety seriously, but only when there is indeed a threat.
"We want to look at all the evidence that we have, all the evidence we've collected, then make a determination, " said McDaniel.
McDaniel says students that face expulsions are often recommended for alternative placement, unless their infraction was a violent offense.
In Lynchburg, the code of conduct says school principals can exercise reasonable judgement when deciding disciplinary action for students.