Calvert officials won’t clear record of 5-year-old with cap gun

Calvert County school officials on Friday denied a request to clear the school record of a 5-year-old boy who was suspended for bringing a cowboy-style cap gun onto a school bus last month.

The kindergartner, who tucked the orange-tipped toy gun inside his backpack so that he could show it to a friend, was suspended May 29 for 10 days. After a disciplinary conference that scaled back his punishment to three days, he returned to Dowell Elementary School in Lusby. A request to remove the offense from his record was considered separately.

That request was turned down in a letter dated Friday on grounds that the child “did bring a cap gun in his book bag” and that an investigation showed that some students were afraid and did not know if the gun was fake or real. The Washington Post generally does not identify juveniles accused of wrongdoing.

“I’m disappointed that we can’t bring an end to this,” said the boy’s mother, who is a teacher in Calvert. “Now we have to continue on.”

Robin Ficker, a lawyer who is representing the boy, said the family plans to appeal the case to the Board of Education.

The boy’s mother said it would be damaging to “have something sit on his record that has the seriousness of bringing a look-alike gun into school. . . .Why would you do that to a 5-year-old who brought an obvious toy?”

The incident highlighted concerns about the length of time in which parents are notified of school offenses. The mother said she was called more than two hours after the bus ride. The boy was questioned without a parent and uncharacteristically wet himself, she said.

School officials said that the incident was handled appropriately and that the child was questioned for five to seven minutes. Calvert officials did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

The case comes as many schools are especially sensitive about guns, even simulated ones. Locally, children in first and second grade have been disciplined for pointing their fingers like guns and for chewing a Pop-Tart-like pastry into the shape of a gun.

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