A kindergartner in Calvert County, Maryland, was given a 10-day suspension after he brought a cowboy-style cap gun onto his school bus in order to show it to a friend.
The boy’s parents say he was questioned for more than two hours before the school called his mother. His mother said during that interrogation her 5-year-old son, uncharacteristically, wet his pants.
“The school was quite obviously taking it very seriously, and he’s 5 years old,” said his mother, who asked not to be named to protect the boy’s privacy. “Why were we not immediately contacted?”
School officials also questioned the boy’s older sister, a first-grader, before speaking with their parents.
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“I have no problem that he had a consequence to his behavior,” said his mother. “What I have a problem with is the severity.”
The orange-tipped, plastic cap gun is a toy the boy bought at Frontier Town, a western-theme campground. He says he brought the toy to show a friend who brought a water gun to school the day before.
The family’s attorney appealed the suspension Thursday, asking the punishment be lifted and removed from the boy’s record.
Jennifer L. Young, the principal at Dowell Elementary School in Lusby, called the boy’s mother at 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday and told her that her son had wet his pants. She also claimed the boy simulated shooting someone on the school bus with his cap gun, which the kindergartner denies.
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His mother did not know the boy was carrying his cap gun to school in his backpack. He explained to his mother that he “really, really” wanted to show it to his friend.
Young told the mother that if there had actually been caps in the gun, which make a loud pop when fired and usually emit a puff of smoke, the school would have had to report the explosive to the police.
Family attorney Rob Ficker said the incident should have served as a teachable moment. “Kids play cowboys and Indians,” he said. “They play cops and robbers. You’re talking about a little 5-year-old here.”
A disciplinary conference Friday will review the incident to determine the most appropriate outcome, said Kim Roof, executive director of administration for Calvert schools.