Airsoft Gun, Facebook Post, Kid And A School. You Can See Where This Is Going.

Classic Army DT4 Double-Barrel M4 Airsoft Rifle

A middle-schooler at a private school in Maryland for kids with language disabilities was suspended for the final three weeks of school and not allowed to graduate.

Here’s what the father said happened:

I recently received an unexpected phone call from the principal at my son’s small private school for kids with language-based learning disabilities in Maryland. My son, 14, was lurking in the background of a video made by another boy toting a gun — not a real gun, a disabled airsoft gun that shoots plastic pellets.

My son’s school investigated and found that, in addition to the other boy’s video, my son had taken a selfie of the other kid holding him in a headlock pointing the fake gun at my son’s head. My son then shared it, without comment, with 13 friends on Snapchat.

“This is very, very serious,” the principal said. She informed me that my son would be suspended for the remainder of the year — three weeks.

Full stop.

The father had us at that point.

Clearly the school overreacted to some kids goofing around. There was no harm done to anyone. There was no threat to anyone, yet somehow the kid got suspended for a social media post that was off school grounds and had nothing to do with the school.

Unfortunately, the father jumps the shark a bit too:

Without a doubt, my son exercised horrible judgment and deserved to suffer consequences.

No, the kid did not exercise “horrible judgment.” The adults all did, but not the kids.

We grew up playing games like “Army,” “cops and robbers,” “cowboys and Indians” and not one of the people we grew up with was ever arrested for any crime, much less actually shooting up a school.

Yet in the zeal to “protect” kids, schools think that even “play” is somehow a threat. Instead of just calling the kid and the parent in and expressing their concerns, (and even that may be too much,) the school suspended the kid for three weeks so he could “reflect” on his non-crime or wrongful act. All the school did was make the kid resent the school and education.

The father says that the kid was involved in another disciplinary action earlier in the year.

I first realized something was amiss at the school when I received a call earlier in the year about another ‘very serious’ incident,” said Bernstein. “My son had told a friend that he observed a teacher texting while driving. He was then hauled into the principal’s office and asked to apologize to the teacher, which he only did reluctantly. ‘The teacher was very hurt,’ the principal stated. ‘And [your son] didn’t seem to care.’ Confused about the ‘crime,’ I asked the principal what if my son was telling the truth. ‘That’s beside the point,’ she said. ‘He violated our community values by hurting the teacher’s feelings.'”

Maryland has very strict laws on texting and driving.

According to the Maryland Vehicle Administration:

Texting and phone use are leading causes of distracted driving. The law in Maryland prohibits the use of a handheld phone while driving. This includes the writing, sending or reading of a text or electronic message. Avoid a fine and park the phone before you drive.

The school was concerned about the “feelings” of a teacher that was breaking the law and went after the kid for saying something about it.

There’s a disconnect somewhere where the school is more concerned about posts on social media where no one gets hurt, no one can get hurt, and there is no impact on the school as compared to a teacher who broke the law in the state of Maryland.

You don’t have to be John Grisham to sense something is a little off here. On the one hand, a child is punished for reporting an actual danger: a texting driver. On the other hand, the same child is punished for participating in a video and photo that did not represent an actual danger.

Clearly the school is very worried about feelings and not so worried about reality. It worried that the teacher accused of texting would feel hurt. And it worried that students might feel “anxiety” if they heard about or saw the video or snap.

In this way, the school is tutoring its students in safetyism—the word Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff use in The Coddling of the American Mind to describe the demand for pointless safety measures. The students are being taught to believe that they are literally unsafe when actually they are just uncomfortable—and that the administration is required to respond.

Note that responding doesn’t actually make kids any safer, because they were not in any real danger to begin with.

When asked about the incident with the airsoft gun, the school sent an email to a reporter at the Washington Post. It is almost as ridiculous as you might think:

As you well know, it is important for independent schools to respect the privacy of individual students, and so we are not able to comment on the specifics of any particular situation.

However, like other schools, when a discipline situation arises, consistent with our school culture and practice, we carefully consider the context of the incident. This includes the prior history of the student, their age and mitigating factors, and we speak with the student and the student’s family. Our goal is to help students learn from the situation so that they are better prepared for college and life. We do not have a zero tolerance policy.

First, the privacy concern goes out the window as the father and the family have already made the issue public. If the school has a concern, they can contact the family and ask for a release to respond to the press. The school doesn’t want that to happen as they are hoping that no response will mean that the issue will die.

Secondly, the school didn’t speak with the student or the student’s family other to inform them that the kid was suspended. That’s not exactly a conversation and it certainly isn’t productive for the long term education of the student in “college and life.”

The school was simply trying to cover up.

It is mind boggling to us that the school wasn’t concerned about the illegal activity of a teacher but was concerned about the legal activity of a student.

We have said this for some time now and it bears repeating: school administrators have to be well educated to be that stupid.

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