A 10-year-old who was merely playing by pretending to “shoot” a classmate with his fingers has been suspended by his school. Fifth-grade Nathan Entingh was suspended for three days by Devonshire Alternative Elementary School, located in Central Ohio, for his pretend gun game. Nathan has never been in trouble before in school, but now has a mark on his permanent record that could haunt him for the rest of his educational career.
“I was just playing around. People play around a lot like this at my school,” said Nathan to local news reporters. “I was thinking [the punishment] was dumb.” The suspension was particularly shocking because no other students even saw the “finger gun” and action was only taken after a teacher spotted Nathan make the gesture. His father, Paul, said the punishment “would make sense maybe if he brought a plastic gun that looked like a real gun or something, but it was his finger.”
However, the school district is not backing down from the suspension. District spokesman Jeff Warner said three newsletters have been sent home with students about the district’s zero-tolerance policy about pretend gunplay and they were all aware with the rules. He also expressed being disturbed at the “execution style” firing Nathan displayed towards the student.
“The kids were told, ‘If you don’t stop doing this type of stuff, there would be consequences,’” said Warner. “It’s just been escalating.” A Columbus Democrat, state Sen. Charleta Tavares, has since proposed legislation that would overturn a 1998 law requiring schools to adopt zero-tolerance policies and it has been supported by both sides of the political spectrum. The Senate’s education committee is currently reviewing the proposal.
Tavares said that “Many of us on both sides of the aisle want to find something that will give school administrators flexibility so they can be reasonable, remain safe and keep students in school.”
(Photo: Columbus Dispatch)