ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – New Jersey fifth-grader Aarin Moody is serving a week suspension from school for accidentally bringing a Nerf bullet to school.
Officials with the Uptown Complex School in Atlantic City planned to expel Moody when a Nerf bullet with a toothpick stuck in the end fell from his pocket when he retrieved a late note for a teacher last Friday, CBS Philly reports.
“I pulled out my late slip and that’s when the item fell out of my pocket and a teacher had seen it,” Moody said.
School officials classified the foam toy bullet as a self-constructed weapon – because of the toothpick in it – and likened the contraption to a shank crafted by criminals in prison, Moody’s mother, Michelle Moody, told the news site.
“From their lookings that the quote unquote weapon looked like it was an imitation of a shank,” she said. “It’s a toy with a toothpick in it.”
Aarin Moody said he stuck the toothpick in his toy bullet so it would stick into the ground when he fired it. He did not have the toy gun in his possession, and said he simply forgot the foam bullet was in his pocket, according to Raw Story.
“They want me to like say that I did it on purpose, I put it in my pocket to hurt someone,” he said.
The school’s weapons policy prohibits “anything readily capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury,” CBS Philly reports.
Michelle Moody has her doubts that Aarin’s toy could inflict serious injury.
“It sounds completely ludicrous to me that my son would be expelled for a Nerf bullet,” she told the news site. “It’s baffling to me that someone would even take something as small as this to the highest extreme.”
Atlantic City school board members did not return phone calls and emails from CBS Philly about the incident, but disciplinary records show school officials were gracious enough to reduce the expulsion to a five-day suspension.
The Atlantic City Nerf bullet episode is just the latest in a string of nonsensical student suspensions for seemingly innocent “weapon-related” student behavior.
In 2013, a 5-year-old girl who was overheard at the bus stop threatening to shoot her friend with her Hello Kitty bubble gun was suspended for 10-days by the Mount Carmel Area Elementary School in Pennsylvania for making a “terroristic threat,” CNN reports.
“I’ll shoot you, you shoot me, and we’ll all play together,” the kindergartner said.
The school eventually reduced the child’s suspension to two days after she was forced to undergo an evaluation by a therapist.
“It would appear that (the girl) does not have those risk factors identified for violent behavior,” the therapist wrote, according to CNN.
“It would also seem that (she) had no harmful or predatory intent in the comments she made to her friends about the bubble ‘gun’ but did not recognize the heightened sensitivity and awareness of her friends and the response that may result from her comments.”
In another case last summer, a Baltimore-area 7-year-old was suspended from Park Elementary School for nibbling his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun, according to CBS.
In both the Mount Carmel and Park Elementary cases, the students’ parents appealed the decisions with the help of an attorney.