Hearing Examiner: School Was Right to Suspend Little Boy Who Chewed Pop-Tart Into Shape of Gun

Pop-TartScott Ehardt / Wikimedia CommonsLast year, the suspension of a seven-year-old boy from an Anne Arundel County, Maryland, public school generated significant media attention. The boy's crime? He chewed a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun and reportedly made shooting gestures at other students.

The incident happened in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, and many people said administrators overreacted out of paranoid sensitivity to gun violence. School policies prohibit "lookalike weapons" as well as real ones, even though no one was ever shot to death by a pastry.

Ever since his suspension, school administrators have tried to spin the harsh disciplinary measures as a last response to a string of inappropriate behavior. Earlier this week, a hearing examiner agreed with the school that the boy's suspension was justified on those grounds. According to The Washington Post:

In a 30-page opinion, hearing examiner Andrew W. Nussbaum supported a principal’s assertion that the suspension was based on a history of problems, not the pastry episode. “The evidence is clear that suspension is used as a last resort,” Nussbaum wrote.

... In Anne Arundel, the boy’s disciplinary referral used the word “gun” four times, asserting that the child “chewed his cereal bar into the shape of a gun” and aimed it at other children. The document quoted the boy as yelling, “Look, I made a gun!” It cited classroom disruption as the primary reason for the suspension, and an administrator noted several previous incidents of disruptive behavior near the bottom of the form.

In Nussbaum’s opinion, dated June 26, he rejected arguments from the boy’s family that the school overreacted and that the suspension arose from a bias against guns. The father said he was told the day that the boy was suspended that it was for playing as if he had a gun, not for ongoing problems.

... Robin Ficker, an attorney for the family, said the parents are hoping for the best when the school board makes its decision. He argued that the school system tried to change the issue “into a long-term behavior problem after the fact.”

It's difficult to believe that the suspension wasn't really about the kid's pretend gun antics, however. Anne Arundel administrators sent a letter home to parents in response to the Pop-Tart incident that clearly indicates they were freaked out about it:

I am writing to let you know about an incident that occurred this morning in one of our classrooms and encourage you to discuss this matter with your child in a manner you deem most appropriate.  During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class. While no physical threats were made and no one was harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom. 

If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week. 

Administrators suspended the boy for two days and marked his personal record. His official school files now reference the word "gun" four times. His parents have asked administrators to expunge the file; they have refused.

It's important to remember that there is a seven-year-old boy at the fruit-filled center of this case study in anti-gun hysteria and heavy-handedness. I have a hard time believing that anyone has suffered as a result of his actions other than himself.

Read more from Reason on illogical zero tolerance school policies here.

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  • Tim||

    "If he gets up, we'll all get up, it'll be anarchy."

  • ||

    That's very clever, sir. But what if there's a fire?

  • Tim||

    You're not fooling anyone, Sloopy. The next screw that falls out will be you.

  • ||

    During breakfast this morning,

    Problem number one. What the fuck is a school doing breakfast for? The kids should be there for the minimal amount of time and that time should be dedicated to learning. What's next, dinner on the taxpayers fucking dime as well? Why not have the parents in for a meal or two as well?

    I'm a net winner when it comes to taxpayer-funded education.* and this is just one of the reasons I think taxes should not exist for education and parents like me should completely pay for education while you non-breeders keep mor of your money.**

    *Not by choice. My ex wife refuses to let me send the older kids to private schools because it "wouldn't be fair" to their other kids.

    **SLD applies. Nobody should pay taxes for public schools in a perfect world.

  • Seamus||

    By federal law, all employers will be required to provide dinner to their employees and their families. Unfortunately, because of the Hobby Lobby decision, Orthodox Jews will be able to deny bacon cheeseburgers to their goyische workers, but that's only until the progs get a chance to replace one of those troglodyte white males on the Court.

  • Brandybuck||

    The lawsuits over meals prepared in non-vegan ovens have already been written and only await the chance to be filed.

  • AlgerHiss||

    "What's next, dinner on the taxpayers fucking dime as well?"

    Yup. It's already here:

    http://blogs.kqed.org/ourxperi.....nd-dinner/

    Education in this country has become disgusting...loathsome...laughable.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    What the fuck is a school doing breakfast for?

    Because about 50 years ago, a group of White Progressives decided that inner-city Black mothers and rural Appalachian White mothers were incompetent. Incredulous that poor mothers possessed the intelligence and motivation to feed their children french toast sticks (with 15 percent wood pulp), they, in their munificence, decided that we must all pay to feed them.

    Why do you want poor children to go to school hungry, sloopy? WHY?

  • sarcasmic||

    The school can't admit to being wrong. That's the first rule of authority. Never admit to being wrong. Ever. Especially if everyone knows you are in the wrong. Never, ever, ever admit fault. Ever. Because if you do, then in the future someone may question your authority, and then you'll have to kill them.

  • Trials and Trippelations||

    They have a problem with killing people?

  • ||

    That's the first rule of authority. Never admit to being wrong.

    I think this rule only applies while seeking control of the FYTW.

    Once acquired you can fuck things up on purpose and brag about it, for obvious reasons.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    This. If the administrators admit to being wrong, their careers are over. That's the only way for bureaucrats to get canned.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    While no physical threats were made and no one was harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom.

    This sentence doesn't make sense. Unless you're going to give us something else, there's no reason he had to be removed. The fact that you did something is independent from it being necessary.

  • Andrew S.||

    The school investigated itself and found it had done everything right? No way! What's next, you're going to tell me that after investigating [Insert incident here], [insert police department here] found that their officer hadn't done anything wrong?

    Cripes. I wish it worked that way in the real world.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Hey, the kid got a valuable lesson that bureaucracy isn't faceless but instead made up a weasels doing weaselly things.

  • perlhaqr||

    Possibly the most important lesson he could get out of public education.

  • Rhywun||

    If your children express that they are troubled by today’s incident, please talk with them and help them share their feelings. Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week.

    Oh, FFS. I'm hoping that all the parents laughed at this while tossing the note in the trash.

  • Jordan||

    I would have sent my kid to go tell the counselor about how much this incident troubled her, because she realized that her teachers are unthinking, cro-magnon animists.

  • Andrew S.||

    That's just inviting a CPS investigation.

  • Jordan||

    Starter prisons gonna starter prison. If they allowed this behavior to go unpunished, next thing you know, kids would be making shivs and functioning crossbows.

  • Rich||

    *Damn* it, Reason! That photo is in the shape of an Uzi!

  • ||

    TRIGGER WARNING

  • Tim||

    The real shock here is that kids are being served POP TARTS! Has Michelle Obama been notified?

  • Rich||

    even though no one was ever shot to death by a pastry.

    Perhaps not exactly "shot to death" -- but those pastries *are* potentially lethal.

  • Tim||

    Steamed or boiled, cale never hurt anybody.

  • Tim||

    Gah. Kale.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Cale never hurt anybody.

  • Drake||

    J.J. Cale?

  • Rich||

    the boy’s disciplinary referral used the word “gun” four times

    "We've only just BE GUN ...."

  • Ken Shultz||

    What kind of Kafkaesque system has you tried by a "hearing examiner" (whatever TF that is) and sends your appeal to the school board?

    Reason #248 to homeschool.

  • BlockadeRunnerX||

    Holy crap, the family's lawyer is Robin Ficker?

    He's that guy who made himself famous by sitting behind the visiting team's bench during Bullets games at the old Cap Center in Landover, where he would use all manner of props to heckle the opposing players.

    One of the only reasons to go to those games back in the 80s and 90s.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Apparently, he's made something of a specialty in these kinds of cases.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R....._victories

    And if he heckles public school administrators the way he used to heckle opposing teams at Bullets' games, then I think he should be nominated to head the Department of Education.

  • John||

    That guy really is doing God's work. Glad to see him turn his gift for heckling into something positive by heckling the right people rather than wasting it on athletes.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Oh, and since the subject has come up, one of the things people should note about the Redskins' name controversy is that we've already had a team in town that was forced to change its name out of concern for political correctness.

    It may not be a mere coincidence that one of the biggest superfans of recent decades (who was a fan of a team that's name was changed from the Bullets because it might give children the wrong idea) has devoted so much time and effort to defend children from the same exact kind of political correctness--characterized by an absurd obsession with guns.

  • John||

    IN fairness, I am pretty sure the idea to change the name of the bullets came out of Abe Polin's ass. I don't recall anyone but Abe thinking the name needed to be changed. I really thought the Lerners might change the name back. Wizards is without doubt the gayest name in professional sports. Bullets in contrast is one of those late 60s and 70s groovy names like the Super Sonics or the Spurs. Such a shame to see the name go.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I remember that being a Jesse Jackson thing.

  • John||

    Since young black men are shooting each other, the Bullets need to change their name. Yeah, that sounds like Jackson.

  • BlockadeRunnerX||

    I always thought it was due to the Rabin assassination. Polin was friends with him, and he really did seem distraught by it. He couldn't hear the name of his team without thinking about the assassin's bullet.

    I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure that's the real reason, and the stuff about DC's problem with gun crime was more of a myth.

    But yeah, Wizards is aggressively lame and they should just change it again now that they're a decent young team with potential.

  • MegaloMonocle||

    OK, now I'm thinking the Redskins need to change their name to the Bullets.

  • perlhaqr||

    WIN!

  • Rich||

    Our school counselor is available to meet with any students who have the need to do so next week.

    What?! And get *more* shit on your record?!

  • John||

    In Anne Arundel, the boy’s disciplinary referral used the word “gun” four times, asserting that the child “chewed his cereal bar into the shape of a gun” and aimed it at other children. The document quoted the boy as yelling, “Look, I made a gun!” It cited classroom disruption as the primary reason for the suspension, and an administrator noted several previous incidents of disruptive behavior near the bottom of the form.

    The fact that the hearing officer considers using the word "gun" to be a part of a pattern of disciplinary problems means he is just as big of an idiot at the principal. I used to think these people were animists and though guns have an agency all their own. They are definitely that. But they are that and worse. They don't think guns have agency, they think the word itself has its own agency. Is there a word for that? These people are getting so stupid they are surpassing the English language's ability to describe them.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Is there a word for that?

    Orwellian?

    Superstitious?

    Lame?

  • Ken Shultz||

    There must be some word for the magical thinking that suggests that speaking something's name gives it power and makes it more likely to happen.

    I can't think of it.

  • John||

    In Dune they had a name for the art of using "killing words" but I forget it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think that was "the weirding way".

  • John||

    Yes.

  • toolkien||

    Ultimately it's Kellogg's fault for making breakfast taste like gun-oil. It's a short bridge to cross even for a six-year old...

    But seriously, it comes down to this. If the child was soooooooo dangerous and patently evil, what the hell is a two day vacation from school going to change? If the threat was so clear and present, expulsion would have been in order. But, of course, it wasn't. All this is a hair trigger response with a pat on the butt for punishment (as far as the child knows, a black mark in his File has no meaning for him). The fear to be had, is the reaction will be the same, the hair trigger will remain, but the punishments will be come more drastic. Our inevitable Gilliam-esque Brazil reality isn't going to forge itself.

  • JW||

    Maryland has only the finest idiots to which to offer to our great nation. Grown from the highest grade moron-pods, placed next to a select and exclusive group of gibbering idiots while they sleep, no other state can claim such an exacting grade of raving imbecility, as can Maryland.

    And soon, SOON, they'll be coming to your city, too.

  • John||

    The effects of their own ideology will make life unbearable and force them to leave the hive.

  • JW||

    You really have to wonder what homeless shelter they dug this hearing examiner up from.

    "Yes, a case of Mad Dog and a box of small scraps of paper to write your manifesto will be paid to you upon the successful adjudication of this case."

  • John||

    It is called a "College of Education".

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "I have a gub."

  • John||

    +1 spot on the ten most wanted list (which getting onto is all political anyway).

  • Entropy Void||

    What happens to the kid who sticks a banana through a doughnut right before the Planned Parenthood lecture?

  • ||

    He will be applauded, for his mastery of 2nd grade sex ed, and reminded of his form of including a state sanctioned amount of strangulation, while also denegrating him for having commiting a potential future sexual assault, subject to the Boston Cream's whims.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    You woke up this morning
    Got yourself a gun,
    Mama always said you'd be
    The Chosen One.

    She said: You're one in a million
    You've got to burn to shine,
    But you were born under a bad sign,
    With a blue moon in your eyes.

    You woke up this morning
    All the love has gone,
    Your Papa never told you
    About right and wrong.

    But you're looking good, baby,
    I believe you're feeling fine, (shame about it),
    Born under a bad sign
    With a blue moon in your eyes.

    You woke up this morning
    The world turned upside down,
    Thing's ain't been the same
    Since the Blues walked into town.

    But you're one in a million
    You've got that shotgun shine.
    Born under a bad sign,
    With a blue moon in your eyes.

  • Andrew S.||

    So what you're saying is that pop-tart guns will cause this child to turn into a mafia boss, only to possibly die or possibly not die in a confusing ending that nobody liked?

  • JW||

    "Happiness is a warm Pop-Tart gun."

  • Invisible Finger||

    In a 30-page opinion,

    Proof right there of sociopathy.

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