GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. – An autistic middle school student in South Carolina’s Greenville County district was suspended for drawing a cartoon bomb depicted in his favorite YouTube video.
Amy Parham told WYFF4 television station that school officials suspended her son, Rhett, yesterday over a picture of a cartoon bomb he drew at home then showed to some students at Hillcrest Middle School.
Parham thought it was a joke when school officials called her with the news. She contends the image Rhett drew comes from a video game he watches on YouTube called Bomberman Hero, WYFF4 reports.
“I’m angry. I’m upset and I’m incredulous, honestly, that a child could come in and bring a drawing and that’s somehow perceived as a threat – especially someone with special needs who really doesn’t filter information the same way that typical children do,” Parham told WYFF4.
District officials told the television station school policy requires the suspension of students who make “threatening comments,” and insinuated there was more to the story than they’re willing to reveal.
“This investigation began when threatening comments were made, resulting in the responsible removal of the student from the school to ensure everyone’s safety while the incident and intent were assessed,” according to a district statement cited by WYFF4. “The school administration has met and will continue to meet with the parents to resolve the matter.
“While parents may openly discuss disciplinary action involving their child, we do not have that same right. As a result, complete information regarding the specific incident cannot be released to the general public.”
Parham understands the reasoning behind the school policy, but asserts that common sense should also factor into the equation.
“Even though zero tolerance is important, it’s very important to protect our children in our schools, but at the same time there has to be some way that we come back to the middle of the road. This is just too far over into the ditch on the opposite side of the road of where we need to be,” she told WYFF4.
Rhett’s suspension follows a clear trend of nonsensical and over-the-top punishments for students who have pretended to play with, or have mentioned, imaginary weapons at school. Students have been punished over the last year for joking about a Pop-Tart shaped as a gun, discussing a Hello-Kitty bubble gun, wearing an NRA shirt with the organization’s rifle insignia, using airsoft guns on their personal property while waiting for the bus, and numerous other innocent infractions.
School safety is one thing, but things are getting out of hand.
It shouldn’t take a multi-day investigation to determine the intent and potential threat of a Pop-Tart shaped gun or a cartoon bomb. A half-hour conversation between a school principal, the student, and parents should suffice to resolve most of these types of minor misjudgments.
School officials continue to opt for political correctness over common sense. It’s making them look foolish and its forcing innocent students to miss valuable instruction time due to pointless suspensions.