4th Grader Suspended For Properly Completing Assignment With A Nerf Gun

from the right-on-target dept

Given the stories we’ve covered in the past in which schools and their administrators massively overreact in the name of children’s safety, I suppose these stories really shouldn’t surprise me as much as they do. I mean, given that we’ve seen administrators lose their minds over pop tarts, fingers, and even drawings, should I really be shocked that a fourth grader was suspended from his Georgia elementary school for bringing in a nerf gun? No, probably not, but a lack of surprise doesn’t mean I can’t get angry that a kid that properly completed his damned assignment was suspended for it.

So why did young Ramsey McDonald bring the nerf gun, which shoots terrifying soft little foam balls out of it, to class? Because he was told to, that’s why.

After a couple of days into the school year, fourth grader Ramsey McDonald of Warner Robins was given what he thought was a fun assignment. Bring in some of your favorite toys to talk about.

“They were trying to get the kids to know each other,” his father, Scott McDonald said.

Well, bang up job, Warner Robbins Elementary, because Ramsey dutifully completed that assignment, but it’s going to be pretty hard for his classmates to get to know him now that he’s serving a 3 day in-school suspension. For bringing in a toy, mind you, that is rated for six-year-olds and up, since it is about as harmful as a really tiny pillow covered in a newborn puppy’s love. It’s a toy. He was told to bring in a toy. Hell, it could have even served as a simple teaching moment for Ramsey about thinking of the larger context of things before making a decision. Instead, all he’s learned is that bureaucracy breeds this kind of overprotective nonsense. Well, that plus he learned that he has more common sense than the adults at his school.

“He told me he didn’t know they would think it was a weapon or he wouldn’t have brought it to school,” McDonald said.

Well, of course not, because it’s not a freaking weapon, it’s a toy, which is exactly what he was asked to bring in. Sitting this kid outside of his class on suspension for three days for properly completing his assignment is crazy-pants.

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Comments on “4th Grader Suspended For Properly Completing Assignment With A Nerf Gun”

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73 Comments
Anonymoussays:

There actually IS a danger to the children here...

My thought, as a parent, would be “Do I really want to trust these people with the education of my child after they so clearly demonstrated the inability to exercise critical thinking skills?” The school wouldn’t need to suspend the child. I probably would need to remove the child from the dangerous environment myself. People, stupidity kills.

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

So let me get this correct.. He is suspended from learning but still has to attend the School?

Why?

What happens if his parents suddenly pull him out of those days for xxx reasons and horrors upon horrors teach him things at home during the short suspension period? Are they fined? Are they sued for “tortuous interference of stupid bureaucratic ignorance” or would they actually teach the kid that any idiot can run a school in America, and it seems they definitely do at his.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

At the schools I went to, internal suspension still want doing work – you were set work in the same way as if you were off sick, and just did it in an isolation room (at one of my schools they had two levels of internal suspension, the lower and more common level was in the same room as where you got sent for being disruptive in class).

Anonymoussays:

Reminds me of the time...

I pulled all my nerf guns out of my carry-on bag and put them into the bin in the TSA line at the airport.

Up to that point, I had usually just left them in my carryon bag and let them go through the scanner – and nobody ever mentioned anything to me, but this time, I was bringing an abundance of them, so I figured I’d make it easier by taking them out and all of a sudden:

“Oh Noes! You can’t take those through here!”

As if somehow the fact that they’re visible to other passengers makes them dangerous.

My security scrutiny took a bit longer that day, and I learned my lesson – keep my toy guns hidden when I get to security, and nobody will ever make a big deal out of it.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Reminds me of the time...

My security scrutiny took a bit longer that day, and I learned my lesson – keep my toy guns hidden when I get to security, and nobody will ever make a big deal out of it.

If you have checked luggage, you should put your Nerf guns in there and declare them as airguns. Then the TSA will be very careful not to lose or open the luggage.

Get off my cyber-lawn!says:

Stupid is as Stupid does

I’ve said it before and will continue to the day they end this stupidity……zero tolerance actually means zero thought. It removes the need for people to USE THEIR BRAIN and only serves to punish the truly innocent as well as shield schools from legal ramifications of making bad decisions. THAT is what they are teaching kids today.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Stupid is as Stupid does

It doesn’t just remove the need for people to use their brains, it removes permission for people to use their brains. Teachers can’t let obvious non-issues like this slide for fear they’ll get in trouble for violating policy if it gets found out. Most administrators run into the same problem, and the ones that don’t can’t back down because they can say it was wrong for the teachers and lower level administrators to follow the policy. So even if everyone involved thinks it’s stupid, they go along “because it’s policy” and if they exercise good sense, they will be punished for it.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: GUNS AT SCHOOL

Yeah; I was thinking that when I was that age, I was never without my pocket knife and a piano wire.

Then in Grade 5, I made a flamethrower. In class. As part of a science experiment. Worst thing that happened with that one was it was an alcohol burner (yes, I was also using alcohol at school) and I soaked my thumb in it during my demonstration. This would have been fine, except when I fired off my cap gun in the playground later (oh yeah; I kept that in my desk at school), my thumb was close enough to the flash from the cap that it lit on fire. Before that I had always thought that ethanol fully evaporated within minutes. Lesson learned.

Anonymoussays:

The three-day in-school suspension is typically the lightest form of suspension, considered a “minor-level intervention,” he said.

Well, yes, an in-school suspension IS the lightest form… OF SUSPENSION. Which involves taking the kid out of the classroom for three days.

If they consider a three-day in-school suspension to be “minor”, that might be half the problem. It’s not minor.

Rikuosays:

Re: Re: Teaching contempt for authority

Might this not be some kind of master plan? In Frank Herbert’s Dune novels, Leto II, the God Emperor, sees a problem – his empire has stopped exploring space. He predicts an enemy will come in time to wipe out mankind, but humanity is feeling just comfy where they are. So what he does is repress humanity for over 1500 years by forbidding all space travel except by his direct command. Upon his death, humanity explodes outward in search of new homes.
Imagine if someone had read Dune and is secretly manipulating the schools in the US in order to better strengthen democracy…

Anonymoussays:

Pavlov’s dogs.

The TSA conditioning people to allow them to be groped and molested because “national security reasons”
The police conditioning people to respect their authority or get shot, or beaten up, or even have their door kicked in by “mistake”
Now you have your children being conditioned to see anything that can be used as a weapon as dangerous, instead of teaching them proper safety.

Americans are being conditioned to accept a tyranny in the name of democracy and freedom.

Anonymoussays:

I kind of feel sorry for the kids in the US. What I hear from relatives and read on the news (like this) it isn’t a nice place to learn anything. Teachers exaggerate too much and basicly everything we did in school, (1) kissing girls for no reason or as a “I dare you” and (2)bringing “cool” stuff we found out about like a swiss knife to school is seen as bad. (1) sexual haressment and (2) bringing a dangerous weapon to school.
Where is the freedom in that? They are kids darn it! It is a nerf gun, something like throwing balls of wool at each other without the actual throwing. Kind of feels like an improved version if this(more fear of anything):
“Bowling for Columbine – A brief history of the United States of America ”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nus9BZlAfQ

Anonymoussays:

Weapons you can't bring to school

Rubber bands
Paper clips
Pencils
Fists
Feet
Pens
Books
Common sense
Paper, its razor sharp!
Boots
Rulers
Compass
Elbows
Push pins
Thumb tacks
Calculators
Critical thinking skills
Toys, especially if they are related to violence

Lastly….
Real guns, knives, swords and other weapons.

On second thought just stay home in your padded cell, it’s the only way to be sure your safe at school.

Whateversays:

Imaging if his dad was an NRA type and the kid’s favorite toy was a tech-9 or something similar. Now that would be a fun day at school, right?

I don’t get it. If the school has a no guns (even toy guns) rule, why would the class assignment suddenly make that go away? I know nerf guns aren’t going to hurt anyone, but they are still a gun, no different from a cap gun or similar. If they are against the rules the other 364 days a year, why would the parent suddenly think it’s okay?

If you re-read the story in the other direction, it seems more like a bad parenting day. The rule is stupid, but the parent should realize that they apply.

Quiet Lurckersays:

Re: Re:

A few quick points in reply.

1. If one parent was an ‘NRA’ type, I’d be willing to wager that the kid would have learned gun safety or would not have been able to take the tec-9 to class. People I know in and out of NRA who own weapons and have kids are generally most careful about teaching gun safety from an early age and or keeping kids from getting their hands on guns in the first place.

2. There is a fundamental difference between a gun and a toy, even if the toy is designed and built to mimic the look and behavior of a gun. There is a fundamental difference between a pastry which just happens to look somewhat like a gun and a gun. Outrage here arises from the fact the school either could not or (more likely) would not recognize that fundamental difference.

3. The parent probably did not consider a nerf toy to be a gun or to fit within the schools definition of a gun, and so did not anticipate the reaction by the school.

4. The teacher in this scenario is the one who screwed up in a big way. The teacher essentially set the student up to fail. Far as I’m concerned the teacher needs some serious disciplinary action for doing that to the student, and the staff – running from the teacher all the way up to the head of the board of education should face some serious consequences. Termination seems about right in this case.

Whateversays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

  1. If the kid was brought up to be a shooter, it’s quite possible that the 9mm would be his favorite “toy”. As per your point 4, would the teacher have been inviting this?

    2. There is a difference between a toy gun and a real gun, but the schools do not want the kids growing up with a gun culture, so even toy guns / projectile firing devices / weapon like items are banned. The difference between them isn’t relevant for a straight forward rule like that.

    3. What part of gun isn’t in the term “nerf gun”? School says no toy guns or weapons, so it’s pretty simple.

    4. Are you suggesting that the teacher needs to have one of those “disclaimer” routines like you hear on radio commercials for contests? Do you think the students (and parents) are so dumb that they cannot be asked to bring a favorite toy to school without considering the rules that apply every day? Do you think American parents must be spoon fed every step of the way?

    The rule isn’t hard to understand, unless you are working real hard to be ignorant. The teachers request doesn’t mean the students can just chuck the rules out the window for the day.

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

I can guarantee some of the toys that kids use now would do a LOT more damage to you if thrown, stepped on, or swung then a nerf gun EVER would.

ie: Yo Yo’s, Baseball bats, javelins, Lego, Barbie dolls, Metal Die Cast cars, etc etc.

A toy gun by its very nature and look has no reasonable expectation in any way whatsoever in being used as a weapon BY ANYONE of sound mind and reason.

Whether toy guns are in the ‘policy’ or not is irrelevant, unless they specifically stated those ‘exceptions’ to toys allowed to be brought to school vis a vis the project means the nerf gun was and should be specifically allowed.

Actually a teachers request is specific reason to ‘chuck the rules’ out for a day based on exceptions since the teacher to a student and parents is a figure of authority.

Basically the teacher is the vicariously liable problem in this situation, though no reasonable person would expect them to be at fault either. Just you it seems

Whateversays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re:

I can guarantee some of the toys that kids use now would do a LOT more damage to you if thrown, stepped on, or swung then a nerf gun EVER would.

You are correct, but it’s not really the point. I could do some serious damage with the plastic rulers and the pink erasers issued in grade school as well. It’s not the actual harm that is the issue here at all.

The issue is what the toy represents. A gun represents violence, something the school is trying to keep out. If the rules say “no toy guns, projectiles, weapons, etc” then the rule is the same as on every other day.

I think we can agree that the school is over reacting. However, it’s also easy to see where they are coming from.

Basically the teacher is the vicariously liable problem in this situation, though no reasonable person would expect them to be at fault either. Just you it seems

Actually, I don’t think the teacher is at fault here. I don’t think that every school project needs to come with a tack on of legalese to make people understand that the school rules are still the school rules. That should be obvious. The issue here lies in a policy that is not flexible and a punishment that was applied without consideration – and a parent who didn’t think (or didn’t get involved) until after the fact.

Whateversays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

The funny thing is how you’ll go to the ends of the Earth to cry in defense of any rule that even you will find is abysmally stupid.

The issue is that if you permit people to pick and choose which rules they like and which ones they don’t, then we are solidly on the road to not having any laws at all.

If you don’t like the rules, then work to CHANGE THEM. Don’t just ignore them and then claim some wild hair free speech fourth amendment didn’t know don’t care excuse for breaking the rules. Work to change them.

If you can’t change them because the majority of people don’t want to change them, then you might want to consider it’s you that needs changing.

James Jensensays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you don’t like the rules, then work to CHANGE THEM. Don’t just ignore them and then claim some wild hair free speech fourth amendment didn’t know don’t care excuse for breaking the rules. Work to change them.

The “it’s the rules” defense is the quickest and easiest form of guilt-free victim-blaming there is.

When rules are clearly not reasonable, it is not always reasonable to obey them, still less reasonable to enforce them, and still less reasonable for someone like you or I to support the enforcement of them.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

In this case, the rule is simply ZERO TOLERANCE – and the application of it in this case, IS stupid.

If you want to walk around crying like chicken little at the sight of a toy gun, be my guest. If nothing else, mentally challenged folks like yourself ARE entertaining to watch.

But please don’t expect the rest of us to not choose to exercise common sense and critical thinking when appropriate, just because you have a paranoia about someone getting fatally injured by a Nerf gun.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

That has got to be one of the stupidest shit you’ve ever posted.

Organizations function by keeping the status quo and making sure things don’t change. Did you think African slaves were capable of working to change the slavery laws they worked under? You don’t change the rules of the game by playing according to the same damn rules wired to ensure that you lose.

But seeing that you’re such a submissive little cocksleeve that can’t get hard at the mention of disobedience it’s not a surprise you’re a completely whipped follower.

JP Jonessays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

1. If the kid was brought up to be a shooter, it’s quite possible that the 9mm would be his favorite “toy”.

How many school shootings were caused by parents actively training their kids to be school shooters? Training them how to use guns doesn’t count…I’m talking about ones where the parents taught the kid(s) specifically to kill people.

I’ll wait.

The issue is what the toy represents. A gun represents violence, something the school is trying to keep out. If the rules say “no toy guns, projectiles, weapons, etc” then the rule is the same as on every other day.

Guns, and toy guns, don’t represent anything other than what YOU decide they do. For me guns have always represented freedom, justice, and safety. Growing up, with guns in my house, a military family, and trusting the police, I saw guns as something that were there to protect me from those who would do me harm.

The issue is that KIDS do not understand how something can be perfectly OK at home but suddenly is the most horrible thing ever at school. The school is undermining the parents in the worst way possible, assigning it’s values to kids rather than being a place of learning. It’s not the school’s place to teach right and wrong, what’s good and bad…that’s the parents job. All it does is confuse kids and punish someone who hasn’t done anything wrong.

I do agree that it’s not really the teacher’s fault…but I do believe that a little bit of common sense is required when teaching kids. Anyone with children knows that your kids do stuff you don’t want them to. That’s part of learning. I don’t flip out and spank my daughter every time she bites…I teach her proper behavior. Is biting against the “rules” of our house? Yes. Does that mean I need to punish her every time she breaks the rule even a little bit? It’s called common sense, and we should be teaching it to our kids, not destroying it!

Stansays:

school superintendant's mind set

So, how does a school district develop this mind set? Get ready for a big surprise:

“The Houston County Board of Education picked Mark Scott to replace Robins Hines, who will retire June 1.”

“Scott says his work as a corrections officer in a Milledgeville prison lead him into the education field.”

See: http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/local/perry/2014/04/09/mark-scott-leads-houston-county-schools/7516283/

Stansays:

From the School District's web page

Here’s what the school district’s superintendant says about students (from http://www.hcbe.net/?DivisionID=15768&ToggleSideNav=ShowAll)

(edited fro mirth and brevity)
“Our values are:
– Safety is our number one priority.
– We take responsibility for learning, not only for our students but also for ourselves.

In addition to our mission, vision and beliefs, we emphasize ?The Houston County Way,? which reflect our tradition of excellence and the way we endeavor to do business every day. The Houston County Way is:

Strive for excellence in all that we do.
Have a professional attitude.
Go the extra mile.
Base decisions on what?s best for the child.
Provide quality customer service.
Hard work, dedication and love for children.
Do things right; do the right thing.

Anonymoussays:

has anyone noticed how things are getting even worse as far as any member of the public having weapons, even when they are children carrying foam ball firing toys. but the Police and every other security force member/employee can carry even worse weapons, real weapons, than they were allowed to 5 years ago? they can now have water canons, which can do an awful lot of harm and electric guns firing cables that give shocks in the thousands of volts and super crowd busting armoured cars and drones flying around keeping tabs on what’s happening, especially when crowds are gathering to show discontent with something or someone of authority, all in the name of protecting those officers. the more security forces CAN do and the less the public can do, the more repressed a country becomes! if things are not heading fast towards a Police State, i dont know what is. the next thing will be restricted movements and then enforced curfews!

Quiet Lurckersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

The issue is what the toy represents. A gun represents violence, something the school is trying to keep out. If the rules say “no toy guns, projectiles, weapons, etc” then the rule is the same as on every other day.

IF it says…. Dollars to donuts, that particular language is not in the rules

I think we can agree that the school is over reacting. However, it’s also easy to see where they are coming from.

Yes, the school is very definitely and unquestionably over-reacting. As to where they’re coming from…No.

Actually, I don’t think the teacher is at fault here. I don’t think that every school project needs to come with a tack on of legalese to make people understand that the school rules are still the school rules. That should be obvious. The issue here lies in a policy that is not flexible and a punishment that was applied without consideration – and a parent who didn’t think (or didn’t get involved) until after the fact.

The teacher is at fault, period. There was a choice – warn the kids about the no guns policy including toys when handing out the assignment or accept the consequences of the decision not to warn the kids, which in this case involved a toy shaped and acting like a gun. The error was in punishing the kid for following directions. That is an unpardonable sin in any moral or legal system. The district created the circumstances which led to this happening, so the district is equally responsible.

Whateversays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

The teacher is at fault, period. There was a choice – warn the kids about the no guns policy including toys when handing out the assignment or accept the consequences of the decision not to warn the kids

Okay children, please bring your favorite toys to school tomorrow, however:

– no guns.
– nothing that looks like a gun.
– nothing that shoots anything
– no knives
– nothing sharp
– nothing that looks like a knofe
– no brass knucles
– no crowbars or other metal implements
– no hand grenades
– no WMDs
– nothing that looks like an WMD
– no power substances
– no snakes or other live animals

So the teacher is up there for the rest of the day reading off a laundry list of things that the kids can’t bring to school for this toy day, even though the school rules already cover all of it.

Quite possibly the teacher sounds like one of thos fast talking radio commercial guys:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omiuTlfv8d8

That would certainly improve the child’s school experience, and cover all of the bases – of course, that assumes that they don’t need to read them all of the local and federal laws regarding illegal weapons.

Niallsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

So if I brought a Lego spaceman with a toy rifle then I’ve brought a gun to school? What about a GI Joe with gun? When does the size of a toy gun make it an ‘actual’ gun? Same goes for other kinds of mini weapon-based toy.

My old Action Man commando brought in would probably warrant a Waco-level response…

Entrapment?

Isn’t this like entrapment? They tell him to bring in a toy, he thinks the gun is a toy (which it is), and he gets suspended.
So is this really a test to see which kids will fall for the school’s double-speak? “You should bring in a toy that you enjoy playing with unless it’s on the school’s ‘dangerous weapons’ list. See also: pop tarts, rubber bands, etc.”

rimo hassiesays:

stupid people indeed

I feel sorry for the boy, i do. But the reason why i came here was because i’m mad at a 4th grader myself. i was counting on him on the swing while my friend counted on the one next to me. he complained that he just got on. there is no such rule that i cant count on him if he just got on or not at our school. So what? i got counted as soon as i got on before. well, this stupid crybaby went to tell the teacher with tears in his eyes. the teacher scolded me and made me give him my seat. Stupid duty teacher who doesnt even know the rules at the scool she works at. I am so mad right now!too bad that that people are so stupid today.why did he have to make such a big deal out of it? and stupid duty teacher, i had hated her since i first came here.that 4th grader will be forever known to me as a stupid crybaby. Dumbass

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