In generations past, a pencil was one of several tools students were expected to have with them during the school day. Today, however, absurd zero-tolerance rules mean a child can face serious consequences for simply holding one.
According to reports, a Vernon, N.J. seventh grader was not only suspended for what he said was nothing more than twirling a pencil – he also faced five hours of physical and psychological analysis.
Ethan Chaplin said the ordeal began earlier in the day when a classmate was bullying him. The targeting continued, he said, when the alleged bully saw him twirling his pencil.
According to Ethan’s account, the other student said, “He’s making gun motions; send him to juvie!”
Apparently, that is all it takes to land a student in hot water. Ethan was promptly suspended and forced to undergo evaluation to determine if he would be allowed to return. He reportedly passed the tests with flying colors.
Perhaps worst of all, Ethan explained, is the fact that school officials refused to hear his account of the incident.
“I’m absolutely livid,” his dad, Michael, said. “I think it’s gross misconduct at its finest. They took something so minimal and took it so far over the edge.”
Charles Maranzano, the district’s superintendent, obviously sees it differently.
“We never know what’s percolating in the minds of children,” he concluded, explaining that whenever students “demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.”
He explained that the way administrators handled Ethan’s situation was standard procedure upon receiving an accusation from one student against another. Ethan’s indictment against his accuser, however, seems to have fallen on deaf ears among those anxious to subject him to psychological evaluation.
Even after his results came back, Ethan still did not know when he would be welcomed back at his school.
School administrators are so overly sensitive to gun-related threats that any modicum of common sense has long been eradicated from most campuses. As initial reports surrounding this incident suggest, a passing comment from an alleged bully is all a school needs to treat another student as a potentially psychotic criminal.
Photo credit: Lee Morley (Flickr)
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom