Yet another student has been suspended for having something that represents a gun, but isn’t actually anything like a real gun.
This time, Daniel McClaine, Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School in Tan Valley, Arizona, made the mistake of setting a picture of a gun as the desktop background on his school-issued computer.
The picture shows an AK-47 lying on a flag, reports KNXV-TV. The gun isn’t his, McClaine assured the ABC affiliate in Phoenix. He found it on the Internet and liked it, partly because he is interested in serving in the military after graduation.
A teacher reportedly ratted McClaine out after noticing the Soviet-era rifle on the computer. McClaine originally received a three-day suspension.
After McClaine’s father contacted the local press, Florence Unified School District officials suddenly decided that the younger McClaine could return to school on Monday.
District policy states that students cannot use school-issued laptops to send or display “offensive messages or pictures,” explains KNXV. Students also cannot use them to produce, retrieve, send or forward images that are considered “harassing, threatening or illegal.”
It’s not clear who determines what is “offensive” or “threatening,” or the basis upon which the determination was made in this case.
McClaine maintained that he read the guidelines but did not think that a picture of a gun could threaten or offend anyone.
“This gun wallpaper does not show anything that’s violent. It’s not showing anybody getting shot in any way,” the suspended freshman told the station. “It’s just a picture of a gun. It’s nothing — nobody getting shot, nobody getting it pointed at them. It’s nothing.”
The elder McClaine agreed.
“He should have got a warning,” Daniel McClaine, Sr. told KNXV. “He shouldn’t have ever been suspended. Not for something so frivolous.”
In a statement, Dana Hawman, a spokesperson for the Florence Unified School District, provided some insight into the reaction by school officials.
“Although we cannot specifically discuss student discipline, we can certainly agree that violence in schools is a sensitive and timely issue,” the statement read. “Students, parents and staff are on edge, and the daily news delivers more reasons for caution. All of us must work together to protect our kids and to cultivate an environment that is conducive to learning.”
This incident is the latest in a growing line of extraordinarily strong reactions by school officials to things students have brought to school — or talked about bringing to school — that are not anything like real guns.
At D. Newlin Fell School in Philadelphia, school officials reportedly yelled at a student and then searched her in front of her class after she was found with a paper gun her grandfather had made for her. (RELATED: Paper gun causes panic)
In rural Pennsylvania, a kindergarten girl was suspended for making a “terroristic threat” after she told another girl that she planned to shoot her with a pink Hello Kitty toy gun that bombards targets with soapy bubbles.
At Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Maryland, a six-year-old boy was suspended for making the universal kid sign for a gun, pointing at another student and saying “pow.” That boy’s suspension was later lifted and his name cleared. (RELATED: Pow! You’re suspended, kid)
In Sumter, South Carolina, a six-year-old girl was expelled for bringing a clear plastic Airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellet to class for show-and-tell. The expulsion was later revoked.