A family in California is outraged after their son was suspended by his kindergarten teacher. Jackson Riley was suspended for reportedly claiming he had a bomb in his backpack. When the teacher asked if she could look inside, the boy said yes and the teacher found nothing. After the incident, the young boy was still suspended and the parents are fighting back.
The administration sent a letter home, saying Jackson violated a school code when he “intentionally engaged in harassment, threats, or intimidation.” The letter also said the rule applies to students “in any of grades 4 to 12.”
“We said, ‘This doesn’t fit, and furthermore we don’t really feel like our son was threatening you,’” Jackson’s father Ian Riley said. “’He’s got an imagination. In his mind, he’s being this hero that’s preventing you from being exploded from an imaginary bomb in his backpack.'”
The administration agreed the school code didn’t fit, but the suspension remained on Jackson’s school record. School officials then sent home a second letter and said Jackson had made “terroristic threats.”
The school did not respond to KCRA 3 News’s request for comment about the incident. Jackson’s parents said before the incident, Great Valley Academy has been good for their family. Since then, they’ve taught Jackson to follow his teacher’s requests and to not say “bomb” at school.
However, they’re worried the suspension will have a lingering impact.
“It becomes easy to label the kid, ‘Yeah, he already made a terrorist threat. It wouldn’t shock me if he meant this in malice too,’” Jackson’s mother Michelle Riley said.
The Riley’s are asking the school to reconsider the suspension.
“We don’t want terrorist threats to be on his permanent record,” Ian Riley said. “The kid is 5.”
This reminds me of the incident a couple years back when a student was suspended for sculpting his pop-tart into the shape of a gun. While it is important to be cautious, teachers need to also remember that young children have imaginations, and if there is no actual threat to the school there is no reason to suspend the child for simply saying something stupid. What do you think? Should the student be suspended or did the school overreact?