The attorney for the boy at the center of the now-infamous “Pop-Tart gun” case is claiming that school administrators are attempting to “demonize” him as they fight an appeal to have the his suspension erased from school record.
9-year-old Joshua Welch was suspended from his Baltimore elementary school in March 2013 for chewing his breakfast pastry into the shape of the gun.
"All I was trying to do was turn it into a mountain but, it didn't look like a mountain really and it turned out to be a gun kinda,” the second-grader told Fox Baltimore.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the family has tried to have the black mark removed from their son’s record, but the school has resisted. Park Elementary School officials now claim that Joshua was suspended for other reasons.
During the six-hour public appeal hearing Tuesday, Laurie Pritchard, Anne Arundel Elementary Schools director of legal services, argued semantics as well as cause.
“First of all, it wasn’t a Pop-Tart,” Pritchard said. “It was a breakfast pastry. And he was not suspended because he chewed his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.”
“He was suspended for ongoing classroom disruption," Pritchard said.
Robin Ficker, an attorney for the Welch family, said that the school system said before that Joshua’s suspension was based solely on his naughty nibble.
"The Anne Arundel County school board is now bringing other facts into light that aren't relevant," Ficker said. "For some reason [the school system] doesn't want to let go of Joshua Welch. They are trying to terrorize him and demonize him."
At the same time, Joshua, who now attends 3rd grade at a different school, admitted during the hearing that he had done something wrong.
“The gun was inappropriate for a school,” Joshua said, though he “would like that taken off my record.”
Joshua spent two days out of school, but his case gathered nationwide attention in the year that followed. Lawmakers in Maryland, Oklahoma, and other states even proposed a “common sense law” to avoid overly punitive disciplinary measures for such childish actions.
Maryland state senator told his colleagues that such a bill was necessary because "this has gotten out of hand."
"I've gotten calls from constituents and parents that are saying, 'Enough is enough,'" said Sen. J.B. Jennings, a Republican from Baltimore. "These are kids. They're 6 and 7 years old in elementary school. I honestly don't think they know what they're doing. These are not acts of violence. They're kids being kids."