Stop the madness: Atlantic City School District in New Jersey expelled a fifth-grade boy for having a foam Nerf dart in his pocket. Amid outrage, that punishment was reduced to a five-day suspension.
The dart fell out of Aarin Moody's pocket when he tried to present a late slip to a teacher. The fact that it had a toothpick wedged inside of it led the school to categorize it as a "self-constructed weapon," according to Fox News:
Aarin said that he places the toothpick in the foam bullets so they would stick to the ground when he fired them from his Nerf gun and that he accidentally brought it to school.
"They want me to like say that I did it on purpose, I put it in my pocket to hurt someone," he told one local paper.
According to the school's weapons policy, "Anything readily capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury" is prohibited on campus.
The Fox News article points out that Moody has minor behavioral issues, like ADHD and aggression. But he's clearly no threat to his classmates, or teachers—he didn't do anything wrong. Taking a slightly troubled kid and kicking him out of school is the surest possible way to set him on the path toward becoming a seriously troubled kid. Unfortunately, this is increasingly the route that schools take when forced to resolve minor disciplinary issues. Safety paranoia is as common inside the classroom as it is at the public park.