The parents of a 10-year-old Pennsylvania boy who was suspended after pretending to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow are mulling legal action against the school district unless the incident is expunged from his record, their attorney said today.
Fifth-grader Johnny Jones was disciplined for gesturing an imaginary bow and arrow using his No. 2 pencil, said attorney John Whitehead, president of a civil liberties group, The Rutherford Institute.
The South Eastern School District West student found himself in hot water in October after playfully responding to a friend’s challenge for a dual during class when the classmate pretended to shoot a gun in Johnny’s direction, Whitehead told ABC News.
Johnny responded by taking his pencil and mimicking a bow and arrow at his friend, and that’s when a girl in his class noticed the play and reported it to their teacher, Whitehead said.
Following a stern lecture by the boys’ teacher, the principal suspended the two for breaking the school district’s zero-tolerance policy against weapons, Whitehead said. As part of the suspension, their school records noted they had violated the district’s weapons policy, he said. Only Johnny’s family has decided to move forward with the possibility of legal action.
The Rutherford Institute sent a letter to Superintendent Rona Kaufmann asking the district to rescind the suspension and remove all references of it from Johnny’s permanent school record.
Kaufmann and Principal John Horton did not respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.
The institute, based in Charlottesville, Va., has represented several cases involving zero-tolerance weapons policies.
The school district has until Friday to respond before Johnny’s parents decide on what legal action to take next, Whitehead said.
Whitehead, author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State,” has reviewed the district’s zero-tolerance policy and said that while it deals with rifles and shotguns and any type of weapon capable of inflicting serious bodily injury, Johnny’s imaginary bow and arrow doesn’t fall under that category.
“Johnny Jones is a cute little kid. They were just doing childish things, things that people do from the beginning of time,” Whitehead said.
“The kids see this stuff all the time,” in movies such as “Hunger Games” or “Brave,” Whitehead said. “Then they go act it out a little bit in school and bingo, bango, they’re suspended from school.”