8th grader suspended for gun doodle

Aug. 23, 2007 at 11:00 AM
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QUEEN CREEK, Ariz., Aug. 23 (UPI) -- An eighth-grader has been suspended from his Maricopa County school for doodling a picture of a gun on an assignment, the Arizona Republic reported Thursday.

The decision to suspend the Payne Junior High student for three days for sketching the gun has caused some parents to question the Chandler Unified School District’s definition of what actions and words constitute a "threat."

"I understand the zero-tolerance policy, but this is taking it a little too far. It's just a drawing. My daughter draws," Rob DeMarco said about his seventh-grader.

Susan Rethoret of Queen Creek agreed, "They overreacted."

But Tom Hendrickson of Chandler chalks the suspension up to an increase in concern regarding school security.

Although parents can appeal a suspension of 10 days or more to a district hearing officer, the school principal has the final word for anything less.

Payne Principal Karen Martin did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The Payne Student Handbook states that "possession or threatening use of any weapon, real or simulated, is strictly prohibited" and warns that punishment can include "conference, expulsion or mandatory police report."

The district would not say how the policy was applied in this case.

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