An 11-year-old boy, Caden Cook, was suspended from school for voluntarily turning in a non-firing plastic toy gun to school personnel.
Fredrick Funston Elementary School in Chicago instituted a random pat-down screening procedure as part of its security at the beginning of the school year, reports The Rutherford Institute, which has come to Cook's defense in the matter.
All students are physically separated from their bags and randomly chosen for pat-downs before going through metal detectors. Bags are also searched at random.
Caden Cook, a sixth-grader, had forgotten he held a plastic toy gun he had played with the previous night in his sweater pocket while waiting in line at school security. He alerted school security personnel, explained he accidentally brought the toy gun to school and relinquished it to security.
Cook was doing the right thing, but the school did not see it that way.
School officials allegedly subjected Cook to intimidation tactics, interrogation, accusations of lying, and threats. His mother was not present, nor had she been informed of the incident. When she did arrive, she was allegedly berated and criticized for allowing her son to play with toy guns, reports The Examiner.
"This case speaks volumes about what's wrong with our public schools and public officials: Rather than school officials showing they are capable of exercising good judgment, distinguishing between what is and is not a true threat, and preserving safety while steering clear of a lockdown mindset better suited to a prison environment, they instead opted to exhibit poor judgment, embrace heavy-handed tactics, and treat a toy gun like a dangerous weapon," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. "In the process, school officials sent a strong, chilling message to this child and his classmates that they have no rights in the American police state."
Cook was suspended from school for violating the school's weapons policy against dangerous objects. He has also been ordered to undergo counseling.
The Rutherford Institute attorneys have called for the suspension to be rescinded and the incident be removed from Cook's record.