With school shootings occurring in startling regularity nation-wide, administrators have a certain responsibility to ensure the safety of their students. The case of Ethan Chaplin, however, calls into question just how far that responsibility should extend.
Chaplin, a seventh grade student from Vernon, New Jersey, was suspended earlier this year for an act as simple as twirling a pencil in class. According to New Jersey News 12, Chaplin was twisting a pencil that had a pen cap attached when another student yelled “He’s making gun motions, send him to juvie.”
Despite Chaplin’s claims that the student who accused him of making gun motions had been bullying him throughout the day, he was suspended from school pending results of a psychological evaluation.
Vernon School Superintendent Charles Maranzano stood by the decision to remove Chaplin from school, explaining that they are forced to take all threats seriously.
“We never know what’s percolating in the minds of children. And when they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty,” Maranzano said after Chaplin was initially suspended.
After Chaplin’s psychological evaluation called for Chaplin to return to school, the student faced no disciplinary action and Maranzano called for the school body to move on from the controversy that the incident generated.
Ethan’s father Michael Chaplin, however, recently received a letter from New Jersey’s Department of Child Protection and Permanency and the Department of Children and Families.
“I received a letter from them saying they had found an incident of abuse or neglect regarding Ethan because I refused to take him for psychological evaluation,” said Michael, according to Pix 11.
The father is now forced to communicate with the state agency despite the fact that there is clear documentation that he did take his son for the evaluation in order to have him return to school.
“All I can do is keep fighting, keep telling the truth and presenting the evidence. That is all I can do and hopefully the state does the right thing,” said Michael.
It is unclear why the letter was sent from the state department to the Chaplin household, but considering the overwhelming evidence, it is unlikely that the investigation into the family will continue.