The Hopkinton kindergartner who was given a half-day suspension for bringing a toy gun to school had his punishment revoked Friday by the school superintendent, according to the 5-year-old boy’s mother, who had appealed the disciplinary measure.
“I thought what they were doing was pretty unreasonable,” said Christina Stone, whose son, Jonah, was issued the suspension after he showed the toy gun Wednesday to a friend at Hopkinton’s Center School. “He was pretty forlorn.”
Toy guns apparently are not covered in the current school handbook, but Stone said Interim Superintendent Steven Hiersche told her he would look into changing that.
“I’m relieved, but I’m also apprehensive because they didn’t say what the new handbook would say,” Stone said.
Hiersche said he could not comment on the suspension because of student confidentiality. He also declined to specifically address whether toy guns would get a mention in the next handbook.
“We’re going to review our handbooks, in general take a look at anything that has occurred this year and look at is there a way we can address things in a different way,” Hiersche said. “I’m not sure what we will do, because right now we haven’t had that conversation yet.”
School Committee chairwoman Nancy Burdick said that board members only know the story from news reports and are not involved in the matter. In order to protect student confidentiality, she said, school officials would not normally brief them on something like this unless it could not be resolved and it became legally appropriate to involve the School Committee.
Stone said the whole situation has been upsetting and was not handled well by school officials. When she first got a call Wednesday from her son’s school, she was not told what was wrong, just that there was an incident and that she should come to the school.
“I was really scared,” said Stone. “I had no idea what was going on.”
Stone said her son often takes toys to school because he goes from there by bus to an afterschool program, but she did not know he had picked out that particular toy, a Western-style souvenir gun from a trip to Arizona. She said it does not shoot anything, but has an elastic inside to make a popping sound.
Jonah’s father, Tig Stone, said his son was bothered by the idea of a suspension and being kept apart from his friends.
“I am happy that this has been removed from his record,” he said. “It’s a terrible thing to carry with you when you don’t even know what it is.”
Jonah got in trouble Wednesday when he was standing in line to get on the bus for his afterschool program and he showed the toy gun to another student.
David Chyten, whose first-grade son was heading to the same afterschool program, said he thought school officials overreacted.
“I understand the fear going on with guns and schools and whatever, but I think boys are going to be boys,” said Chyten. “A suspension for a 5-year-old is crazy.”
Kristy Willadsen, whose kindergartner also attends Center School and who is on the executive board of the Hopkinton Parent Teacher Association, said she believes that the administration was doing its best to deal with a hot topic, but that it is good the suspension was revoked.
“I trust the judgment of the administration,” she said. “I don’t believe a suspension was necessary. However, it is certainly an important topic . . . but I think it could have been done in a better way, maybe bring in the parents and have a discussion first.”
Because of school shootings, administrators are being cautious when it comes to anything related to guns, she said.
“At 5 years old, the child was not meaning anything by bringing the gun, but we live in a different age,” Willadsen said.Lisa Kocian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.