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Local: Education

Suspension revoked for Montgomery County 6-year-old who made pretend gunshot

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Local,Maryland,Education,Matt Connolly,Montgomery County,School Discipline

The Montgomery County 6-year-old suspended for making a pretend gunshot has had his suspension lifted and his record cleared, according to the boy's lawyer.

The first-grader was suspended for a day from Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School after making a gun with his hands, pointing it at another student and saying "pow." Attorney Robin Ficker said school Principal Annette Ffolkes sent a letter to the student's parents Jan. 3 saying, "I am going to rescind the suspension and remove the record from [the child's] file."

"The parents and the child are delighted with the result," Ficker said. "This little boy was simply playing and never meant to shoot or hurt anyone."

Ficker said one of the parents' main concerns was the blemish on their son's permanent record, which will be cleared. The school would have been better off calling in the boy's mother the day of the incident and sorting things out that way, he said.

The boy's parents received a letter from Assistant Principal Renee Garraway on Dec. 20 informing them of the suspension, though it said they had been notified earlier in the day about the incident.

"Your son ... was involved in a serious incident," Garraway wrote. "[He] threatened to shoot a student. He was spoken to earlier today about a similar incident."

The parents were given 10 days to appeal the ruling and met with school officials for a Jan. 2 conference on the issue. By then, the suspension, which was first reported by The Washington Examiner, had begun to receive widespread attention.

"We received calls from around the nation and many other parts of the world expressing support for the positions we took in this matter," Ficker said. "The Montgomery County school system, instead of suspending 6-year-olds, should expand the recess and physical education programs, and should respond to mischievousness with a carrot, not a stick."

Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig said it was policy not to comment on specific student disciplinary matters, adding that the schools make a point to keep parents informed of behavioral issues.

"Anytime there's a suspension, the student or the family can ask that it be reconsidered," he said.

mconnolly@washingtonexaminer.com

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