School officials in Anne Arundel County rejected an appeal filed by the family of a boy suspended after he chewed his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun, according to a decision the family’s lawyer received Wednesday.
The Anne Arundel County Board of Education wrote in an Oct. 9 opinion that staff members at Park Elementary School “acted reasonably and properly” in addressing the disruption caused by the boy — then 7 years old — given the student’s history of misbehavior.
The school incident, which dates back to Mar. 1, 2013, attracted national attention as the so-called “Pop-Tart case.” It came as gun sensitivities were high, following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The family’s lawyer, Robin Ficker, said the parents — still seeking to get the incident cleared from the child’s school record — will now appeal to the Maryland State Board of Education. “They have committed to taking it as far as we need to take it,” he said.
In its opinion, the school board said it had considered the written record and oral arguments in deciding to adopt the recommendation of a hearing examiner. The hearing examiner had affirmed the suspension and supported a principal’s assertion that it was based on a string of behavior problems, not solely the misstep with the pastry.
The new opinion said the discipline imposed was consistent with the district’s student code of conduct at the time.
Many Maryland school systems have recently revised their conduct codes, as they work to reflect a more rehabilitative approach to student discipline in keeping with changes adopted by the Maryland State Board of Education in January.
Responding to the opinion, Ficker said that the school system “should know how to deal with 7-year-olds who don’t hurt anyone,” without removing them from school. “This is not a 17-year-old,” he said.
Bob Mosier, Anne Arundel schools spokesman, said in an email that the ruling affirmed the handling of the boy’s repeated disruptions. Educators “went to great lengths to address those behaviors and the needs of both that student and other students in the building.”