A 5-year-old girl was reportedly suspended and sent home after she brought a toy bubble gun to school (video below).
The kindergarten student brought the bubble gun to Southeast Elementary School in Brighton, Colorado, on May 16, the Denver Channel reported. When the child took the toy out during indoor recess before class started, school officials gave her a one-day suspension and called her mother to come pick her up.
"I asked, 'Is it really necessary for me to come get her?'" the girl's mother, who was identified only as Emma, told the Denver Channel. "And they said, 'Yes, this is our zero tolerance policy, and somebody needs to come get her immediately.'"
The bubble gun that the girl brought to school was reportedly a popular plastic toy sold in many Colorado stores.
"I apologized right away and said that I am so sorry she did that," Emma continued. "I appreciate that they're trying to keep our kids safe, I really do. But there needs to be common sense. It blows bubbles."
Emma told KDVR that she would never have knowingly allowed her daughter to bring the toy to school, but the girl slipped it into her backpack without her knowledge.
Kevin Denke, a spokesman for Adams County School District 27J, released a statement saying the girl's suspension was consistent with district policy. However, the policy states that disciplinary action will only be taken if students "display a firearm facsimile that could reasonably be mistaken for an actual firearm," the Denver Channel noted.
"Our schools, particularly Southeast because of past instances with students bringing fake weapons to school, make a point of asking parents to be partners in making sure students are not bringing these items to school," Denke wrote in a May 17 email to the Denver Channel. "This includes asking parents to check backpacks."
Critics of zero tolerance policies in schools have spoken out against the school district's decision.
"It’s absurd to send a 5-year-old home for a bubble-maker," Nathan Woodliff, the executive director of the ACLU of Colorado, said. "This is a silly example of a very real problem. Zero-tolerance policies often mean zero common sense."
Emma said that she understood the need for the school district's weapons policy but wished that it was applied more judiciously.
"I don't want [my daughter] to miss out on class," she told KDVR. "That's a silly reason not to go to school. What bugs me is this is going to be something they can refer to if we have any issues in the future which I don't foresee, but it's always going to be lingering there in her school file."