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2 Bumps

What is God's green world coming to?

A Pennsylvania school suspends a kindergarten girl for making a "terroristic threat"
Her lawyer says she playfully talked of "shooting" a Hello Kitty bubble gun with friends
The school later reduces the suspension, but still finds she made a "threat to harm others"
A counselor says the girl has no risk factors for violence and had no "harmful ... intent"

(CNN) -- A 5-year-old girl chats up classmates while waiting for the bus after school. The topic: Playing with a Hello Kitty "bubble gun" that, with the flick of a finger, blows bubbles everywhere.

"I'll shoot you, you shoot me, and we'll all play together," the kindergartner says.

The next day, that remark -- which was made innocently, according to the lawyer for the girl's family, who related the story -- landed the young central Pennsylvanian child in the principal's office.

Soon after, she was sent home after being issued a 10-day suspension for a "terroristic threat," as indicated on the suspension form signed by Mount Carmel Area Elementary School Principal Susan Nestico. That and other documents were provided to CNN by Robin Ficker, the lawyer representing the girl and her mother.

Nestico did not respond to a request Monday from CNN for comment. The superintendent's office for the Mount Carmel Area School District did issue a statement, stating that "by law we cannot officially comment on the specifics," while expressing confidence that the story circulating in the media "may not be consistent with the facts."

"When given the opportunity in the appropriate forum, we look forward to presenting information that will portray our school district in a more positive light," the school district said.

While the girl and her family haven't spoken on the record -- and asked not to be identified -- their attorney, Ficker, has. He said the child has been very upset since the incident, even after the school system shortened the suspension from 10 to two days.

One piece of evidence he points to is a letter from a professional counselor, an appointment requested by the school, who talked to the suspended girl and her mother two days after the incident. In it, the therapist describes the child as an apparently "typical 5-year-old by temperament and interests" with no history of mood swings, irritability, depression, attention deficit disorder, learning issues or other problems.

Also, according to the counselor's letter, the girl had "no play guns or play knives," either in the bus line or at home, where her mother prohibited them.

"It would appear that (the girl) does not have those risk factors identified for violent behavior," the therapist wrote. "It would also seem that (she) had no harmful or predatory intent in the comments she made to her friends about the bubble 'gun' but did not recognize the heightened sensitivity and awareness of her friends and the response that may result from her comments."

The story began around 3:15 p.m. January 10, outside the school in Mount Carmel, a community of fewer than 6,000 people about 60 miles between both Harrisburg and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

That's where the girl and her friends, whom she "loves," began talking about a "princess" bubble blower and a Hello Kitty bubble gun. The reason, she told the counselor, was that one of her friends likes princess toys and the other likes Hello Kitty.

During this conversation, the kindergartner admitted she talked about shooting the bubble gun.

Then she went home happy, positive and outgoing, just as she'd gone to school, her mother told the counselor.

The next day, the girl was called in front of a teacher, according to Ficker. Then she sat down with a school administrator and, eventually, the principal.

The subsequent suspension form, issued that day, lists another girl as a "victim." It doesn't elaborate on what happened, but it does mandate a 10-day out-of-school suspension or a "medical/psychological evaluation given (the) nature of (the) offense."

On January 12, the suspended girl met with the counselor, both independently and with her mother The therapist wrote that he found no evidence or history of behavioral issues or poor parenting and determined "it appears (the kindergartner) engages in positive peer relationships."

The counselor also noted that the child was aware of last month's deadly shooting at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school that ended with 27 people -- including 20 children ages 6 and 7 -- dead.

As to her own feelings about talking about shooting in her conversation with her classmates, the girl told the counselor, "I didn't mean anything bad."

There's more at the link below, but I'm running out of room.


Asked by Ballad at 1:44 AM on Jan. 22, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (9)
  • This school is a half hour away from me.
    The whole situation is stupid. Kids are now being punished for playing and having social interactions with friends.

    Slap them in front of a TV, feed them some Mickey D's, and tell them they are special. Give 'em a trophy for showing up.
    No playing, no running, no imaginations.
    This is what its coming to, people. It's gonna be like WALL-E: Fat, lifeless blobs in staring at screens in floaty chairs.

    Answer by PartyGalAnne at 2:17 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • i think one of the other little girls parents needs a slap to the face. my thought is that the girls had this conversation, one of the other girls told her parents about it cause a bubble gun sounds fun, and the parent flipped out, called the school and demanded they take the dangerous girl out of school.

    zero tolerance needs to go.

    Answer by okmanders at 1:59 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • Absolutely idiotic.

    Answer by SWasson at 7:40 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • I agree that it goes too far. But in a way the parents are responsible. Zero tolerance means zero tolerance.

    Answer by booklover545 at 11:56 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • The subsequent suspension form, issued that day, lists another girl as a "victim." It doesn't elaborate on what happened, but it does mandate a 10-day out-of-school suspension or a "medical/psychological evaluation given (the) nature of (the) offense."

    ^^^Seriously?! The 5th grader who intentionally tried to stab my child's hand with the scissors, cut her hair & threatened to "F-ing kill her" got 2 days. Nice to know that if the child had threatened her with a bubble blower it would've been a much bigger deal! Give me a break! Ugh!

    Answer by mrsmom110 at 7:18 PM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • I am happy the parents have an attorney, I hope they sue the hell out of these assholes. If anyone should be suspended (I would prefer fired) it's the principal and any other person involved in this working for the school.

    Zero tolerance my ass. More like zero common sense. The school and the idiotic parent who obviously reported this '' threat'' should be ashamed of themselves. This makes my blood boil!

    Answer by Nos4 at 11:28 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • I hope Susan Nestico goggles herself so she can see just what everyone thinks of her. What a joke! I wouldn't want this woman ANYWHERE near my child. This woman lacks common sense and a functioning brain.

    Answer by Nos4 at 11:31 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • I couldn't agree more, okmanders. Zero tolerance usually seems to equate to zero intelligence, in my opinion. My daughter has one of those bubble guns. It just makes weird laser noises and sprays out a stream of soap bubbles. Perfectly harmless. It's true we need to be more aware of real threats in our brave new world, but where will the madness end?

    Comment by Ballad (original poster) at 2:12 AM on Jan. 22, 2013

  • Well I guess if that child had the hello kitty bubble gun at home, the kid would would be having a mini vacation at Gitmo?? I am beginning to think on-line school is a safer bet.

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 9:21 PM on Jan. 22, 2013