NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) – Under dangerous weapons policies, kids have been suspended for everything from bringing a toy gun to school to using a hand gesture as a pretend gun.
Because of the times we live in, even non-firing toys violate zero weapons rules.
Darin Simak, 7, along with his mom and dad, was on his way to a meeting with the New Kensington-Arnold School District superintendent Friday in Westmoreland County.
“I’ve never claimed to be a perfect parent. I didn’t raise a perfect child,” says his mom, Jennifer Mathabel.
On Wednesday, at Martin Elementary in New Kensington, Darin found a toy gun in his backpack. It was plastic and had a big, bright orange tip.
Darin’s mom, a nurse who works the late shift, sent him off with a spare backpack that morning. She never saw the toy in an outside pocket.
After arriving at school and discovering the toy gun, Darin made a good decision.
“I sended it to the teacher,” he said
“Handed it over and said, ‘I’m not supposed to have this,'” Jennifer added.
But the district went by the book, and his parents were called.
“She said, ‘He cannot come back to school.’ I sent him the next day anyway,” said Jennifer.
Earlier this year, in Chicago, there was a nearly identical case.
An 11-year-old boy brought a toy gun to school, again mistakenly. A rights advocacy group, the Rutherford Foundation represented him. Policies were changed.
But there would be no total reprieve for Darin.
Exiting the Superintendent’s hearing, his mother says, “He can go back to school on Monday. He has a total suspension of two days.”
Darin’s parents respect the importance of rules. But Jennifer has worked hard to help Darin make good decisions.
“This kid clearly succeeded in the circumstance, and it’s a mixed message we’re sending him now by being punished,” she said.
Darin will be back for his last day of first grade.
“I’m glad he’s able to go back to school on Monday and get the last couple of toys the teacher took throughout the year,” said Chris Simak, Darin’s dad.
And what he wants returned most? His confiscated sticky toy lizard.
After all, he is a kid.