RICHMOND – District policy allows no wiggle room: When a child brings a gun to school, including a toy, the minimum penalty is a five-day suspension.
An elementary school student, about 9 years old, learned that lesson when she took a toy gun out of her backpack to show seatmates on the bus on her way to school Friday.
“The driver saw it fairly quickly, had her put it back in the backpack and then secured the backpack until they got to town,” Superintendent Mike Aytes said.
The child had no intention of trying to scare anyone with the toy, Aytes said. She had an emotional attachment to the toy, provided to her by “somebody special,” and wanted others to see the item, she said.
“She wasn’t angry at anybody. She wasn’t trying to harm or scare anybody,” Aytes said. “It was just a very unfortunate choice on her part.”
The district has a zero-tolerance policy regarding bringing actual or facsimile weapons to school, and penalties are automatic. In this case, the district likely will enact the lowest penalty of a five-day suspension, Aytes said.
“We try to put common sense into our policy,” he said.
Several adults visited with the child after the incident.
“I don’t think she anticipated what a big deal would be made of it,” Aytes said.
In more serious cases, more serious penalties would result, he said.