An 11-year-old boy attending Northern Middle School in Owings, Md., was suspended last year for saying “gun” in a conversation on the school bus, Todd Starnes reported Wednesday at Fox News.
According to Starnes, the sixth-grade boy was discussing the Sandy Hook school shootings when the bus driver overheard the conversation and dragged him to the school for questioning.
“He said, ‘I wish I had a gun to protect everyone.’ He wanted to defeat the bad guys,’’ Bruce Henkelman, the boy’s father, told WMAL. “That’s the context of what he said. He wanted to be the hero.”
“The principal told me that with what happened at Sandy Hook if you say the word ‘gun’ in my school you are going to get suspended for 10 days,” he added.
The boy was grilled by the principal and a sheriff’s deputy without any parents present, WMAL added. Henkelman said the deputy wanted to search the family home without a warrant.
“He started asking me questions about if I have firearms, and [the deputy said] he’s going to have to search my house. Search my house? I just wanted to know what happened,” Henkelman added.
The home was not searched, and the deputy left after Henkelman answered a four-page questionnaire.
“I was uncomfortable answering the questions,” he said. “But I was told if I don’t fill this form out – he would not be allowed back in school.”
According to Starnes, the questions covered topics ranging from mental health to how many guns and weapons the family owned.
“They were very intrusive questions,” Henkelman said.
“Since the incident happened a day before winter break, the principal reduced the suspension to one day,” Starnes said.
Henkelman told WMAL he felt compelled to go public after learning of another Calvert County boy who was suspended over a cap pistol he brought on the bus.
“[My son] was very scared at the fact that he was interviewed by the principal and a sheriff’s deputy alone. He didn’t know where I was,” Henkelman told WMAL.
Deputy Superintendent Robin Welsh confirmed the incident occurred and said there was misinformation about the case, but declined to provide details citing federal and local confidentiality laws.
Henkelman — a retired Navy veteran — says he is outraged at the school’s actions.
“I keep telling him that he did nothing wrong,” he said. “At the very least the principal owes him an apology. Our personal rights were violated.”
He also said his son is an honor student who wants to serve in the Navy SEALs
“He’s infatuated with the Navy SEALS,” he said. “He thinks they’re great – how they go and save the world. The context was to protect people just like the police department does with their guns.”
Since the Newtown shootings, educators have taken steps they say are necessary to protect children from gun violence, but many believe school administrators are going overboard.
A Maryland boy was suspended after chewing a pastry into the shape of a gun and a five-year-old girl was called a “terrorist threat” after saying she would shoot her friend with a Hello Kitty bubble gun.
In Philadelphia, a fifth-grade girl was searched, harassed and called a murderer over a piece of paper torn into the general shape of a pistol.
ACLU staff attorney Sonya Kumar told WMAL there are too many incidents of school officials going after students for relatively harmless offenses.
“Across the board, we are concerned about practices where we have these sort of knee-jerk reactions without really stopping to think and use our common sense about whether what a kid is doing or saying actually presents any sort of concern for the safety and well-being of others,” she said.
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