The Pennsylvania middle school that suspended a 10-year-old for pretending to shoot a fellow classmate with a bow and arrow has until Friday to remove the suspension from the student's record, or face potential legal actions from the boy's parents.
The Rutherford Institute, a civil-liberties organization, penned the letter at the behest of the boy's family to the superintendent of the South Eastern Middle School District after learning about Johnny Jones' day suspension and expulsion threat.
"We all want to keep the schools safe, but I'd far prefer to see something credible done about actual threats, rather than this ongoing, senseless targeting of imaginary horseplay," John W. Whitehead, the president of the institute said in a statement.
According to the institute, Jones was in the front of his fifth grade classroom on Oct. 14, when fellow student playfully rolled a folder into a tube and acted like he fired a shot at Jones. Jones, in turn, pulled out a pretend bow and arrow and acted like he discharged a bow. One classmate saw the exchange and informed a teacher. The teacher took the students into the hallway and the school's principal contacted Jones' mother, the statement said.
Principal John Horton told the boy's mom, Beverly Jones, that under the new weapons policy her son's actions could justifiably lead to his expulsion, the statement said.
"Horton characterized Johnny's transgression as "making a threat" to another student using a "replica or representation of a firearm" through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow," the statement said.
"Parents need to know if their kid makes a sign with their fingers, then they're going to have a suspension for threatening with a firearm," Jones told The York Dispatch. "That's ridiculous."
A district official told the paper that its policy is not to discuss private matters regarding students. The boy's mom and the district supervisor have since discussed the matter and the mom calls the superintendent "very nice."