Under Proposed Bill, Students Who Form Finger In Shape Of Gun Would Not Be Suspended
BALTIMORE (WJZ) ‚ÄĒ Zero tolerance for zero tolerance. That‚Äôs how one lawmaker feels about young children being suspended from school for forming their finger or food in the shape of a gun.
As Gigi Barnett explains, he has a bill designed to keep students in class if they‚Äôre caught.
State Senator J.B. Jennings says he does not intend for this bill to be a part of the growing gun debate in Maryland, but he does say he wants it to bring some common sense discipline to state schools.
Anne Arundel County school leaders suspended 7-year-old Joshua Welch last week for eating a pastry in the shape of a gun.
‚ÄúWhen you compare the caliber of the offense to the caliber of the punishment, they don‚Äôt match up,‚ÄĚ the boy‚Äôs father said.
Back in January, 6-year-old Rodney Lynch received the same punishment for forming his fingers in the shape of a gun. Montgomery County school leaders sent Rodney home for two days.
‚ÄúThese kids are 6 or 7-years-old. They don‚Äôt understand what they‚Äôre doing,‚ÄĚ said Sen. J.B. Jennings.
State Senator J.B. Jennings says zero tolerance rules on school campuses are going too far, so he wrote a bill. It bans school leaders from suspending students who make the shape of a gun with their fingers or food, or students who draw a gun on a piece of paper.
‚ÄúIf it‚Äôs done in a violent manner, then yes, we can take it to the next level. We can look at suspension,‚ÄĚ said Jennings.
Jennings says his office has received several calls from parents who fear that a suspension in elementary school will mar their children‚Äôs academic career.
‚ÄúSo the parents are the one‚Äôs who‚Äôve had concerns saying ‚Äėokay, now my kid has to carry this.‚Äô So when they get into middle school and they start placing them in classes, they‚Äôre going to look and say ‚Äėwell wait a minute, this kid has been suspended when he was in second grade.‚Äô And he‚Äôs always going to be looked at as ‚Äėwhat did he do?‚Äô‚ÄĚ Jennings said.
If the bill passes and a student is caught forming their food or fingers in the shape of a gun, they would be sent to a counselor‚Äôs office first‚Äďnot suspension.
Jennings says the bill is heading to the Education Committee. If it passes, it goes to the full Senate for a vote.