Yet another student has landed in trouble for having something that represents a weapon, but isn’t actually anything like a real weapon.
This time it’s an autistic middle school student in South Carolina who was suspended until further notice after he brought a cartoonish drawing of a bomb he drew to school, reports local NBC affiliate WYFF.
The student, 13-year-old Rhett Parham, showed his drawing to some older students at Hill Crest Middle School in Greenville. They reported it to school officials.
They boy said he got the idea to draw the bomb from a video game called Bomberman Hero. Parham likes to watch YouTube clips of the game on his home computer. The game involves a hero, Bomberman, who seeks to rescue a captured princess.
Parham explained that he used lined paper, a black marker and “pens and stuff” to draw the image. He noted that bombs “explode things.”
Parham labeled his image “bomb.”
“It’s a bomb, a picture bomb,” he said.
The boy’s mother, Amy Parham, called her son’s indefinite suspension ludicrous.
“He has autism. He has an official diagnosis. They know that he communicates differently. It’s obvious when you communicate with him that he doesn’t speak the same way and communicate and think the same way as typical children,” the frustrated mother said.
Parham told local CBS affiliate WSPA that her she doesn’t believe her son poses a threat of bomb violence. In any case, she observed, he’s autistic and not capable of constructing a real bomb.
In a statement obtained by WYFF, the school district defended its decision.
“This is one of the most difficult judgments a school official must make,” district spokesman Oby Lyles said. “This investigation began when threatening comments were made, resulting in the responsible removal of the student from the school to insure everyone’s safety while the incident and intent were assessed.”
Lyles added that the school’s response was “appropriate to the severity of the incident.”
It’s not clear what, if any, threatening comments Rhett Parham made.