Maryland school officials declined a request to clear the record of a sixth-grader who allegedly made a gun gesture at a fellow student while they were riding the bus.
The 11-year-old is a student at Mill Creek Middle School in Calvert County. His mother, Carin Read, received a letter on Monday relaying the decision. In the letter, officials wrote that Read’s son made “a deliberate inappropriate gesture toward another student on the bus.”
Molly Gearhart, supervisor of student services, signed the letter. Read said that her main concern about the incident was that school administrators had gone “way overboard” in their handling of the situation. Read’s son was suspended and the incident is now a permanent part of his school records.
Read has some support.
“It seems illogical on its face,” said Kim Anderson, the director of the center for advocacy at the National Education Association. “It seems like something is wrong when students make hand gestures and get punished this severely. The point of discipline should be to protect the safety of students and staff and makes sure that the educational climate is nurturing and allows students second chances.”
School security expert Ken Trump makes the point that the policies themselves are not the problem.
“The vast majority of school administrators strive for firm, fair, and consistent discipline policies that adhere to common sense,” she said. “It’s about how you administer the policies that you have; unfortunately you have some administrators who don’t use common sense. The majority of administrators air on the side of giving kids a break versus being overly harsh. For every incident that you point to of a principal being overly hard, I can point to several where an administrator has failed to report serious crimes.”
Read plans on appealing again, this time to Kim Roof, Calvert’s director of student services, The Washington Post reported. “I will go as far as it takes,” Read said.