Anne Arundel officials decline to clear record of second-grader who made ‘pastry gun’

The family of a second-grader suspended from his school in Anne Arundel County for chewing his Pop-Tart-like pastry into the shape of a gun has lost a bid to have the episode expunged from the child’s record, according to the family’s attorney.

Robin Ficker, the family attorney, met with school system officials Wednesday after filing an appeal asking that the suspension be reversed or that the child’s record be cleared. Schools officials did neither, and the family now plans to go to Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell to argue that the boy, now 8, was simply playing, Ficker said. “No one was hurt,” Ficker said. “No one was scared.”

The second-grader, 7 at the time, was removed from class for two days in early March for chewing his pastry into a gun shape and aiming it at other students, an offense described as “classroom disruption.” It came at a time of heightened sensitivities about guns in the aftermath of the mass shooting in December in Newtown, Conn.

About the same time, children elsewhere were suspended for pointing fingers like guns and, in one case, talking about shooting a Hello Kitty “gun” that blows bubbles. In many cases, appeals were granted by school officials.

In Anne Arundel, Ficker said, school officials offered to change the reason for the suspension to “general disruption” and remove references to the pastry gun, but they told him that they would not clear it from the child’s record. Ficker said changing the reason “but keeping the suspension” would do nothing to help the boy.

The child’s father, William “B.J.” Welch, said he had hoped that school officials might be more receptive. “I guess I expected more of a fair result,” he said Wednesday night. “I don’t view the punishment and the mark on my son’s record as a reasonable reaction to the situation that took place.”

Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said he could not confirm the meeting or address any of the statements from the family’s lawyer. “This is a matter between the school, a student, and his parents,” Mosier wrote in an e-mailed statement. “It is not, and it should not be, fodder for a publicity stunt by an attorney who seems to believe that his young client’s best interests are somehow served by trying this case in the media.”

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