Civil Liberties

First-Grader Finds Toy Gun, Turns It In, Gets Suspension

I sure hope he learned his lesson.


Pennsylvania first-grader Darin Simak brought a different backpack to school this week, failing to notice the toy gun concealed inside it. When he realized that he had inadvertently brought the weapon—which is not a real weapon at all—to Martin Elementary in New Kensington, he immediately informed his teacher.

Simak was promptly suspended for violating the school district's "zero tolerance" policy against weapons, according to WTAE:

The New Kensington-Arnold School District superintendent said that bringing a toy gun to school violates the district's policy at the highest level and requires a child to be suspended immediately until a meeting can be held to discuss what happened and whether punishment is warranted.

Simak's parents sent him to school the next day anyway, thinking the punishment was too ridiculous to be enforced. But administrators take imaginary firearms very seriously, and refused to let Simak return to his classroom. His father eventually picked him up from school.

School zero tolerance policies require administrators to suspend or expel (and in some cases, arrest), students who break the rules—even inadvertently, in Simak's case. The absurdity of arresting children for harmless mistakes has begun to faze the general public, however, and some lawmakers are pressing districts to revise the policies.

Thankfully, Simak won't face any of the harshest disciplinary possibilities. The school board declined to expel him, and the boy will be allowed to return to school on Monday.

I sure hope he learned his lesson.

Hat tip: Jim Treacher