Sam Burgos, an 8-year-old school boy in Broward County, FL, was suspended last November after bringing a toy gun to school, NBC reports. Pembroke Pines Charter School has a zero-tolerance policy against weapons, and because the toy was capable of firing projectiles, they considered it a threat.
Burgos’s parents respected the school’s decision to suspend their son for the year, but they received quite a shock when they tried to re-enroll him in class this fall. Broward County school officials have informed the family that Sam will not be allowed back into second grade this year – unless he’s willing to attend a correctional school for problem children. What gives?
Sam’s father, Magdiel, is outraged, saying, “I can’t sit here and allow them to send my kid to a school where students have committed actual crimes. He hasn’t committed a crime.” According to NBC, Magdiel “thinks there should be some room to determine that his child didn’t bring a real gun to school.”
As for the school board, they maintain that “it’s common sense to know that this kind of item can’t be allowed on school campus and that responsibility also falls on parents to know what their children have in their backpacks.” Maybe so, but the punishment seems a bit heavy-handed in comparison to the crime. I think even a year-long suspension is a bit much for bringing a toy – albeit an inappropriate and potentially dangerous (though clearly not fatal) one – to school. I wonder if racism is at play here. The Sun-Sentinel published a piece last week citing “a new analysis from the Southern Poverty Law Center find(ing) that black male students are suspended in disproportionately high rates from middle schools,” and that South Florida schools “figured prominently in the study.”
Logic tells any rational person an 8-year-old boy – an innocent child – certainly deserves another chance at attending second grade after learning his lesson the hard way. A meeting between the Burgos family and the school board will take place next week.
Photo: Free Range Kids