A Californian couple is speaking out against an elementary school after they suspended their 5-year-old son for making "terroristic threats."
Great Valley Academy in Modesto, California, allegedly suspended kindergarten student Jackson Riley after he claimed he couldn't take off his backpack because he had a bomb inside, reports KCRA.
"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, said, reports the Tribune Media Wire Service.
Nothing was found upon inspection; nevertheless, the child received a one-day suspension.
In a letter, school officials told Jackson's parents the child had violated a school code and had "intentionally engaged in harassment, threats, or intimidation."
His parents argued the rule only applied to students in grades four to 12, the Daily Mail reports. In response, the school claimed Jackson had made "terroristic threats."
"We said, 'This doesn’t fit, and furthermore we don’t really feel like our son was threatening you,'" Jackson's father, Ian Riley, said. "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."
Both parents believe the school responded inappropriately and request that the suspension be reconsidered.
"We think the administration acted far too harsh for a 5-year-old," Ian said. "We truly want to stress that our issue is with administration, and that we absolutely love and adore our children's teacher. She has been amazing with our son."
"We don't want terrorist threats to be on his permanent record," he added. "The kid is 5."
Internet users seem to agree.
"I would definitely talk to the parents if I were his teacher - but suspend him?" wrote one person under the Daily Mail's comments section. "He probably doesn't even know about terrorism yet. You need to teach him about that first before punishing him."
"I think there was a middle ground between doing nothing to punish the five year old and suspending him from school and labeling him a terrorist," said another. "Small children need to be taught how to behave, but also adults needs to know to teach them."
Ian says he is grateful so many support his point of view.
"My wife and I really, truly, honestly, sincerely, appreciate all the supportive messages we have received today!!" he said. "I mean that."