The parents of a Maryland elementary school student are fighting to have his record expunged after he was suspended for chewing a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and pointing it at other students.
The Anne Arundel County School Board heard arguments from both sides of the debate Wednesday night.
The now well-known incident happened March 2013 when Joshua Welch, who was 7 years old at the time, was suspended from Park Elementary School for the questionable behavior involving the pastry. His parents have been fighting the school system over the suspension ever since. Now they want the suspension taken off his permanent record.
“I don’t see a reason for it to be there. And that’s been my goal from day one,” the boy’s father, William Welch, told CBS-Baltimore.
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The Welch family’s attorney Robin Flicker said it was time to let the school’s leadership move on from the incident and expunging the record would put the matter to rest.
“Let this go, let him free and think about educating the kids of Anne Arundel County,” Ficker said, according to WBAL.
But the school system, so far, has been unwilling to back down, saying the student was suspended for ongoing disciplinary problems, not just the pastry incident.
“This has never been about a gun. This has never been about a single incident. It has been about a series of ongoing disciplinary issues on the part of that second-grade student,” school district spokesman Bob Mosier said.
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Ficker disagreed with that assessment.
“What happened before this incident or after, it is not relevant because the suspension form very clearly stated that he was suspended because he had a gun, he pretended to shoot the gun, it looked like a gun,” Ficker said.
The school system’s attorney said during the hearing Wednesday that there were at least 20 documented incidents of disruptive behavior prior to the suspension. Three of those incidents reportedly involved having to clear classrooms of students because Josh was throwing chairs.
Mosier said that prior to the suspension the school and the family were trying to work together to address the boy’s behavioral problems.
"They had been working with the school to try to arrange support for Josh, but some of the offers that were made by the school were rebuffed by the family," he added.
The Welch family has since moved from the school district and enrolled their son in another elementary school.
Ficker said the family was prepared to take the matter up with the state board of education or possibly the court system. The school board gave no indication Wednesday when it would render a decision on the matter.