A Montgomery County elementary school student was suspended for a pretend gunshot a week after Adam Lanza killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The 6-year-old, who attends Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Silver Spring, made a gun with his hands, pointed it at another student and said "pow," according to Robin Ficker, the boy's attorney. He was given a one-day suspension, with a conference on the matter planned for Jan. 2, the day students return to school from winter break.
"What they're doing is looking at the worst possible interpretation of a young, naive 6-year-old," Ficker said. "This is a little child who can't form the intent to do anything like that."
According to a letter sent by Assistant Principal Renee Garraway to the child's parents, this was not the first time something like this had happened.
"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."
Ficker said the boy's family was never told about any previous issues. "They won't say what the similar incident is," Ficker said. "It just shows the overreaction."
The letter says that the child's parents were informed of their son's suspension the day of the incident, though Ficker said the school should have invited his mother in to discuss the situation before a suspension was handed down.
"They could have called the mother in. They didn't do that. They just said, 'You're suspended,' " he said. "Five years from now, when someone in to Montgomery County looks at his permanent record, they're going to see that he threatened to shoot another student."
According to the letter, the ruling can be appealed within 10 days, although the suspension has already been served. Garraway declined to comment.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig said it was policy not to comment on student disciplinary matters. He added, though, that schools make sure parents are aware of behavioral issues.
"Generally, in an incident involving the behavior of our younger students, we will make sure that the student and family are well-informed of any behavior that needs to change and understand the consequences if the behavior does not change," Tofig said. "And that's especially true if the behavior is affecting the learning environment or how safe another student feels."