A he said-she said drama worthy of a really, really bad television crime procedural has developed at an elementary school in Loveland, Colorado over an imaginary grenade hurled by a second grader at a box full of make-believe bad guys.
Seven-year-old Alex Evans said he was merely trying to save the planet from evil last Friday afternoon, reports KDVR. That’s why he lobbed the pretend grenade — probably heroically far — on the playground during recess at Mary Blair Elementary School.
Even though Evans didn’t actually throw a grenade or threaten anyone, school officials reportedly told his mother that his creative play broke two crucial rules. The school’s list of “absolutes” includes no real or pretend fighting, no real or pretend weapons.
Mary Blair Elementary principal Valerie Lara-Black called home on Friday to report that Evans had been suspended for pretending to toss an imaginary grenade at make-believe evildoers, according to Mandie Watkins, Evans’s mother.
“I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended,” the seven-year-old adorably explained to the Denver FOX affiliate. “I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go ‘pshhh.'”
Watkins doesn’t think her son should have been suspended.
“Honestly I don’t think the rule is very realistic for kids this age,” she told KDVR. “I think that when a child is trying to save the world, I don’t think he should be punished for it.”
Watkins has decided to remove her son — along with her fourth-grade daughter — from school indefinitely.
Meanwhile, school officials tell a different story, or at least they’ve started telling a different story ever since they became a national laughingstock for suspending a seven-year-old boy who threw a pretend grenade during recess.
“He was not suspended for having an imaginary weapon,” school district spokesman Mike Hausmann told the Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The district itself has never expelled or suspended a student for having an imaginary weapon.”
“This is a much more complicated issue than has been portrayed,” Hausmann added.
On Tuesday, school district officials asserted that a suspension doesn’t occur until a student violates Mary Blair Elementary’s list of “absolutes” three times.
Watkins said she was never contacted about any previous instances when Evans violated the “absolutes.”
Then, on Wednesday, Watkins met with Principal Lara-Black and another school official. Watkins told the Reporter-Herald that Lara-Black told an entirely different story at that meeting. The new claim was that several witnesses saw Evans chucking rocks on the playground. However, school officials could provide no documentation of these charges, according to Watkins.
Watkins then asked her son if he had thrown rocks. He reiterated that all he ever did was try to save planet earth with an imaginary grenade.
“My son’s story has not changed even once,” Watkins told the Reporter-Herald. “Honestly, my son has been the most consistent person in this situation.”
This incident is the latest in an increasingly long line of extraordinarily strong reactions by school officials to things students have brought to school — or talked about bringing to school, or, in this case, imagined while at school — that are not anything like real weapons.
At Poston Butte High School on the suburban fringes of Phoenix, a high school freshman was suspended for setting a picture of an AK-47 as the desktop background on his school-issued computer.
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.
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.
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.