Anne Arundel Board of Education to review ‘pastry gun’ case

The case of the Anne Arundel County boy who was suspended for allegedly chewing a pastry into the shape of a gun is scheduled to go another round.

The county Board of Education has scheduled a September review of the high-profile disciplinary case, which dates to March and involved a second-grader who school officials said chewed his Pop-Tart-like snack into an L-shape and yelled, “Look, I made a gun!”

The boy was suspended for two days, and his family has filed a series of appeals, seeking to have the incident cleared from the child’s school records.

Then a 7-year-old at Park Elementary School when the infraction occurred, the boy is now an 8-year-old third-grader who attends a different Anne Arundel school following a family move.

Anne Arundel schools spokesman Bob Mosier declined to comment on specifics of the case, but he said such reviews generally mean the board chooses how to proceed: whether to hold a hearing, send a case to a hearing examiner or request arguments in writing.

The boy’s father, William “B.J.” Welch, said he is glad to see the case progressing. “It’s step by step,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

The case attracted national attention at a time of heightened sensitivities about guns, as it came 11 weeks after the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Young children elsewhere were suspended from school for pointing fingers like guns, talking about guns and having toy guns.

Robin Ficker, the Anne Arundel family’s attorney, said he was glad the appeal is on the board’s calendar. “I’m hopeful that they will grant the appeal and expunge his record,” he said. “We’ll try our best at every stage.”

Ficker said the episode should not follow the child through his school life.

“He was 7. He’s imaginative, and he wasn’t trying to scare anyone,” Ficker said. “The other kids knew that. All the kids had the same Pop-Tart, the same pastry.”

When the schools previously rejected the family’s appeal, Ficker said, school officials disputed the case was “a singular incident, having to do only with a breakfast pastry,” instead referring to other behavior attributed to the child.

But Ficker argues the boy’s disciplinary referral describes his offense as classroom disruption and says the boy “chewed the bar into a gun shape” before aiming his snack at classmates.

The boy’s father has said the child maintains he pointed the pastry gun at the ceiling. Welch reflected: “In my eyes, it’s irrelevant; I don’t care who he pointed it at. It was harmless. It was a danish.”

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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