After a six-year-old Pennsylvania girl with Down Syndrome pointed her index finger at her teacher and said, “I shoot you,” the school district called the police.
A Pennsylvania mom is furious over the fact that cops were called out when her 6-year old daughter with Down Syndrome made a "finger gun" and pointed it at a teacher. https://t.co/da3J6oZ0rK
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) February 10, 2020
The Tredyffrin-Easttown School District said its policy called for the police to be contacted. Daily Local News reported:
The school’s principal Rebecca Wills quickly determined that there was not a threat and then followed district policy and convened a “threat assessment” team. The threat assessment team recommended no disciplinary action, and determined that a “transient threat” was made and no harm was made to the teacher or any classmates … Gaines then said that she received a call from the principal that police were going to be notified. The incident was reported to police 24 hours later.
The incident prompted the girl’s mother, Maggie Gaines, to say that the reaction to her daughter Margot’s gesture at Valley was far from reasonable, as she told CBSPhiladelphia:
They get this phone call and I was fine with everything up until calling the police. And I said, “You absolutely do not have to call the police. You know, this is ridiculous” … My daughter got frustrated and pointed her finger at her teacher and said, “I shoot you.” At that point, they went to the principal’s office and it was quickly assessed that she didn’t even really know what she was saying. They were asking her questions, and she was saying, “Oh, I shoot mommy,” laughs, or, “I shoot my brother.” The principal asked, “Did you mean to hurt your teacher?” And she said no and it seemed like she didn’t even know what that meant.
Gaines continued, “She really didn’t understand what she was saying, and having Down syndrome is one aspect, but I’m sure all 6-year-olds don’t really know what that means. Now, there is a record at the police that says she made a threat to her teacher.
The Gaines family alerted Pennsylvania state Sen. Andrew Dinniman, who stated:
As a state senator, an educator, and a parent, I am concerned when I hear that such important decisions appear to be guided blindly by written policy or legal interpretation without those in positions of authority using their judgment, experience, and commonsense to weigh in. Furthermore, I am alarmed that a school seems to be acting as an extension of the police department in promulgating data and records on children as young as kindergarteners.
Bearing Arms noted, “This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a student’s finger gun land them in trouble. In 2019, a middle school student in Kansas faced felony charges after making a finger gun in class, while students in the same school district who brought actual firearms to school were charged with misdemeanors.”
The Tredyffrin-Easttown School District issued a statement that included these statements: “When an individual parent concern related to our school safety practices was brought to the attention of the District two weeks ago, we agreed to review those practices in the School Board Policy Committee meeting tonight. When developing the current practice, the District worked collaboratively with parents, law enforcement and private safety/mental health agencies and legal consultants to ensure our safety measures reflected considerable input from both our local community and experts in the field of school safety.”