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Offending drawing (Photo: KPHO-TV, Phoenix)
A 13-year-old boy has been suspended for three days by an Arizona public school because he sketched a picture that resembled a gun, something school officials said they “absolutely” believed could pose a threat.
According to a report by KPHO-TV in Phoenix, it’s not the type of greeting the Mosteller family expected when they moved from Colorado Springs to Chandler, Ariz., a few weeks ago.
“My son is a very good boy,” Paul Mosteller told the television station. “He doesn’t get into trouble. There was nothing on the paper that would signify that it was a threat of any form.”
The principal at Payne Junior High School kept the actual drawing, and officials with the Chandler Unified School District declined to release any information about the situation.
“Federal privacy law forbids the school or district from discussing student discipline,” the station was told.
Mosteller said her son was just idly drawing pictures, and ended up with a fake laser.
“He was just basically doodling and not thinking a lot about it,” she said. “We’re not advocates for guns. We don’t have guns in our home. We don’t promote the use of guns. My son was just basically doodling on a piece of paper.”
School officials who initially banned the student for five days lowered the penalty to three days after discussing the situation with the boy’s father.
“I just can’t believe that there wasn’t another way to resolve this,” Mosteller told the Associated Press. “He’s so upset. The school made him feel like he committed a crime. They are doing more damage than good.”
The drawing did not show blood or bullets. Nor did it show injuries or target anyone, the Mostellers said. It just resembled a gun.
Terry Locke, a spokesman for the district, told the AP the sketch was “absolutely considered a threat,” and threatening words or pictures are punishable.
However, the school failed to contact police, and failed to provide counseling or an evaluation for the student to determine if he intended it as a threat, officials said.
The student’s father, Ben Mosteller, said school officials told him how serious they considered the situation, and discussed the 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School, where two teens shot and killed 12 students and a teacher, and injured dozens more.
That, he said, was extreme and offensive. The family already has contacted the district’s governing board about the incident.
The station said it checked the rules students must follow at school, and found there’s nothing in a portion of the student handbook that addresses conduct to indicate the drawing of a weapon poses threat.
Participants in a local newspaper forum were irritated.
“If school officials believed this to be a threat, they are in violation of state law by failing to make a police report. Suspend them,” said “Bobo A.”
“This once great land of ours (now someone else’s) gets SICKER by the day. Not the year, not the month, not the week, but by the DAY. Dennis Prager asked a very interesting question: How did the “Greatest Generation” give birth to the “Most Stupid Generation?” (my paraphrase),” added “loamy l.”
Prager, a WND columnist, recently reported on the case in McMinnville, Ore., where students created something called “slap butt day” at Patton Middle School.
He reported that on one such day in February, “Two boys tore down the hall of Patton Middle School after lunch, swatting the bottoms of girls as they ran – what some kids later said was a common form of greeting. But bottom-slapping is against policy in McMinnville Public Schools. So a teacher’s aide sent the gawky seventh-graders to the office, where the vice principal and a police officer stationed at the school soon interrogated them.”
The students were read their Miranda rights and hauled in handcuffs to jail, where they spent the next five days.
All because the Yamhill County district attorney, Bradley Berry, brought felony sex charges against the two boys. When he finally explained himself under pressure from the media, Berry told the Oregonian, “From our perspective and the perspective of the victims, this was not just horseplay.”
But Prager reported the girls, in fact, did regard it as horseplay. And they claimed from virtually the outset that they had been pressured into making a case against the boys.
“Our beloved country is flipping out. The effects of The Age of Stupidity ushered in during the ’60s and ’70s are omnipresent. It is highly doubtful that there is a living member of the World War II generation who could have imagined that seventh-graders would one day be brought in shackles into an American courtroom for playfully swatting a girl’s buttocks,” Prager wrote.