A California couple is hoping to reduce their 5-year-old son's punishment after he told a teacher he had a bomb in his book bag.
The incident occurred in late August 2017. Jackson Riley told his teacher at Great Valley Charter School that he could not take his backpack off because it may cause a "bomb" to explode, Ian Riley, Jackson's father, told HuffPost.
The teacher checked Jackson's book bag and did not find any explosives. Ian then received a phone call asking him to come to the school to pick his son up.
Jackson was suspended for one day, and the school marked that he made “terrorist threats to school officials" on his permanent record, Ian explained. The child's parents are now hoping to change that.
"We just want to get our child’s situation rectified," Ian said. "He’s a happy, healthy 5-year-old with a healthy imagination."
The school initially accused the student of having "intentionally engaged in harassment, threats or intimidation," Ian said. However, the father said that code violation only pertains to students in fourth through 12th grade, so the accusation was amended to "terrorist threats," WNEP reported.
Jackson's parents argued that the amended accusation is worse.
"We said, 'This doesn’t fit, and furthermore we don’t really feel like our son was threatening you,'" Ian told KCRA. "'He’s got an imagination. In his mind, he’s being this hero that’s preventing you from being exploded from an imaginary bomb in his backpack.'"
"He said he couldn’t take his backpack off because it would explode, meaning he doesn’t want anybody to get hurt, so I mean, granted, it’s all in the world of pretend-play, and we’re talking about an imaginary bomb," Jackson’s mother, Michelle Riley, told KTXL. "But where was the threat? We still haven’t really received a clear answer to that."
Ian said a meeting has been scheduled for him and his wife to speak with both the principal and the school's CEO. They are hoping to have the accusations removed from Jackson's permanent record.
"We really want it to be known that we love the teachers and we love the environment, we just have an issue with the policy," Ian told HuffPost.
Ian said the entire ordeal, which has since gotten national attention, has not affected Jackson's behavior.
"A day later he was outside picking flowers for his teachers," Ian said, adding that other parents at the school have been "really, really supportive."
School officials said they could not comment on the case, but added that they take "student safety and discipline very seriously."