A preschool in Illinois suspended a four-year-old boy for a week because he brought a spent shell casing to school, according to a Facebook post by the boy’s mother.
The mother, Kristy Jackson, explained that her son had been learning about gun safety from his police-officer grandfather over the weekend and must have picked up the casing on the floor and brought it to school without her knowing.
“I was handed a piece of paper,” Jackson wrote. “No words, just eyebrows raised in disgust at my son, explaining that his behavior warranted a 7 school day suspension.”
“Which I still was expected to pay tuition for, of course,” she continued. “And a threat that if his enthusiasm for guns continued, he’d be permanently expelled.”
(Note: According to Jackson, the officials at the school — which is ironically called “A Place 2 Grow” — had initially told her that her son had brought a bullet to school, because apparently they themselves didn’t have enough gun education to know the difference between a bullet and a casing.)
And it gets worse. According to Fox 2, the school’s vice principal later e-mailed Jackson to inform her that he was planning to contact the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in the wake of the incident. Now, to be fair, he also claimed that the child had been suspended not only because of the casing, but also because of some other disciplinary issues that could not get into for privacy reasons.
First of all, if Jackson were correct in saying that the school had threatened to expel her son if he were to continue showing an interest in guns, then that says to me that the shell-casing incident itself would have been enough for a suspension. I mean, if the scale we are working with here is one where expulsion is an appropriate punishment for showing an interest in firearms, then a suspension for bringing a casing seems to fit perfectly in line with that logic.
Isn’t preschool expected to be just one big behavioral nightmare?
Second of all: Just what in the Hell kind of other behavioral issues could this vice principal have been talking about, anyway? After all, isn’t preschool expected to be just one big behavioral nightmare? Four-year-old kids scream; they kick; they bite. They rip toys out of each other’s hands, and they wail like lunatics if someone takes a toy from them. They unabashedly leave boogers on their nose; they wipe their boogers on each other. If preschool kids got suspended every time they behaved badly, I’d bet that preschool in general would cease to exist at all.
I know this school is named “A Place 2 Grow,” but throwing a kid out for carrying a completely harmless object — and leaving him confused as to what he did wrong — hardly seems like a way to achieve the mission stated in its name. Jackson told Fox 2 that her son has “cried about it and he doesn’t understand why his school hates him.” Assuming that this is true, I just have to ask: How is throwing a kid out, making him feel bad, and neglecting to give him the information that he would need to know in order “2 Grow” from the experience the best way to handle this? If the casing really was such a big issue — which, by the way, is something that I cannot understand — then the school officials should have just talked to the kid and his mom about it and then allowed him to continue “2 Grow” in the classroom alongside his peers. Sure, there may be more to the story, but still, having this kind of reaction to an indiscretion committed by a person whose level of maturity rates at “Still has several years left of believing in the Easter Bunny” seems like it would be really tough to justify.
This story was originally covered in an article in Reason.
– Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online.
Editor’s Note: This article’s original headline stated that the four-year-old was “expelled” for bringing a shell casing to his preschool. The student was suspended, not expelled.