Finger guns have been in the news a lot lately. First there was the Pennsylvania man who was charged with disorderly conduct for pointing his index digit at a neighbor. Last week, a St. Louis man stopped a fleeing hit-and-run driver by threatening him with his thumb and forefinger.
Those stories sound crazy. But there’s no lunacy quite like public education zero tolerance lunacy. News now comes from Overland Park, Kansas that a 12-year-old girl was handcuffed and dragged out of school for making a finger gun gesture toward some of her middle school classmates.
As the Kansas City Star reports . . .
Police hauled her out of school in handcuffs, arrested her and charged the child with a felony for threatening.
Shawnee Mission school officials said they could not discuss the case, citing privacy laws, but did say it wasn’t the district that arrested the child.
“We don’t do that,” said spokesman David Smith. “That is not our job.” He said the role of the district police is “not to enforce the law but to keep kids and adults safe.”
We’re sure that every teacher, student and parent of the Shawnee Mission School District will sleep better knowing that this real and present danger has been removed from Westridge Middle School.
According to the powers that be in her school, the girl allegedly “communicated a threat to commit violence.”
A person familiar with a more detailed incident report spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity. The person said that during a class discussion, another student asked the girl, if she could kill five people in the class, who would they be? In response, the girl allegedly pointed her finger pistol — like the ones many children use playing cops and robbers.
Because of that gesture, The Star was told, the girl was sent to Principal Jeremy McDonnell’s office, and the other students involved were also talked to. The school resource officer recommended that she be arrested, the source said. She was detained by police and later released to her mother. A hearing in the Juvenile Division of the District Court of Johnson County is set for Tuesday.
You can attribute this kind of zero tolerance idiocy to a post-Parkland climate in which any normal childish behavior will dealt with in the strictest, most severe manner possible so as to avoid any possible future second-guessing of administrators, resource officers or security staff.
Shawnee Mission’s policies define intimidation as “any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act or threat which is severe, persistent and pervasive enough that it may be expected to: Harm a student or damage a student’s property. Create fear of harm to a student or fear of damage to a student’s property. Interferes with a student’s education or participation in a school-sponsored activity or event. Create an intimidating or threatening educational environment.”
Since the student is a juvenile and the district refuses to discuss the matter, it isn’t possible to know whether the unidentified girl has any prior history of behavior problems, bullying, abuse, or other “red flags” that would warrant any kind of discipline, let alone an arrest and felony charge.
And so it goes.