Real boy suspended for imaginary grenade


107 Responses to “Real boy suspended for imaginary grenade”

  1. signsofrain says:

    From the Mary Blair ‘Absolutes’ Document:

    ABSOLUTES for Mary Blair Elementary

    To insure this Time to Teach Program, we have come up with some ABSOLUTES to make Mary Blair a safe environment.

    The ABSOLUTES for Mary Blair Elementary:

    1. No Physical Abuse or Fights – real or “play fighting”
    2. No weapons (real or play), illegal drugs (including tobacco) or alcohol
    3. No serious disrespect toward people or property (includes, but is not limited: profanity, racial slurs, deliberately refusing to follow a staff directive, graffiti, etc.)

    ABSOLUTE Procedure:
    · An ABSOLUTE must be witnessed by an adult
    · A student will be placed in the Principal’s office or sent home for the rest of the day if he/she violates an ABSOLUTE. A student will be allowed two non-severe, non-suspension occurrences. The third occurrence will constitute a formal suspension, which could be up to five school days. A conference is always held with the teacher and the principal as to the severity of the consequence.
    · Each time a student violates and ABSOLUTE, a “Parent Notification of Behavior Problem” form will be sent home with the child.
    · Each time a student is suspended, a “Behavioral Plan” will be written with parents, principal, teacher and the student (when possible). This conforms to Thompson R2J School District policy and Colorado Discipline Code.
    · Every ABSOLUTE that is broken following the first suspension will also be a suspension.

  2. Bottlekid says:

    “Every ABSOLUTE that is broken following the first suspension will also be a suspension.”

    …Because we refuse or do not have the capacity to think.

    • Kevin Pierce says:

      The problem (or beauty)  with a ZERO TOLERANCE policy is that there is ZERO THOUGHT involved.

      • This is like the time in middle school when the administration wanted to ban backpacks, pens, and pencils. I am totally serious.

      • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

        Zero chance of a normal child ever being able to meet this fantasy standard of behavior

      • Christopher Houser says:

        My favorite part of the absolutes policy is the one in which a child ignores a staff directive. “Timmy, drop your pants!”

        “That’s a one week dispension for you!”

        Okay, maybe it won’t happen like that. But clearly there’s an issue when they have a rule in there that amounts to “AND ANYTHING ELSE I CAN THINK OF.”

        Who needs laws and rules when you can be authoritarian instead?

  3. mccrum says:

    I’m really confused.  So we want to encourage active imaginations, we want people to respect soldiers, but we don’t want people to have active imaginations where they might pretend to be someone they respect?

    If the box was filled with his imaginary teachers and schoolmates, it’s worth a chat at most.  I’m going to quit my job and homeschool at the rate school systems are going…

  4. kartwaffles says:

    Suspending a kid for an imaginary grenade is a clear violation of ABSOLUTE #3: “No serious disrespect towards people.”

    I can only conclude that the school’s administration will be dispending themselves in compliance with the ABSOLUTES.

  5. Ness Creighton says:

    A seven year old is old enough to know the word “suspended”, and whomever did that interview is not helping him by thinking its cute. Am I the only one who doesn’t find it cute when little kids say words wrong? 

    • PaxAm says:

      (shrugs) Probably.

    • Mike Burton says:

      Yes.  You are the only person who thinks that a grade 2 student who mispronounces the word Suspended is somehow not adorable.  Good luck with the stealing of Christmas, however.

    • Grahamers2002 says:


    • Ari B. says:

      I refuse to use baby talk with my toddler, and tend to use regular spoken English at an appropriate age level for her. That said, I don’t jump all over the place to correct her if she muddles or mispronounces a word, and it’s usually cute when she does. Seriously, it’s not the end of the world, and she’ll learn proper diction in due time.

    • Harold says:

      I’ve been in first-grade classrooms when the kids try to exchange pen-pal letters with kids from another building.  It’s weird, most kids just learning to spell can read back what they wrote with no problem.  They can read the writing of their friends and classmates with a bit of difficulty.  But give them a letter written by a student taught by a different teacher and it’s like giving them Latin.  I spend most of those periods going from student to student, trying to figure out what their pen-pals wrote.  One kid even made that the central theme of his reply to his pen-pal.
      The point being, most seven year old are really awful at spelling, and not that much better at pronouncing new or less-used words.

    • Snig says:

      My serious dad refused to use babytalk with my brother and I and discouraged others from doing so.  We were both late talkers, but when we did, we used complete sentences.

    • Finnagain says:

       “did that interview”? Really? You used ‘did’ here? Wow, what a loser.

    • Scott Fay says:

      While you’re getting all uptight about proper English, try “whoever” and “it’s.”

    • marilove says:

      Do you find yourself just as not-cute for your own crappy grammar and spelling? You’re a grown man; what’s *you’re* excuse? At least this kid is only seven!

      • Ness Creighton says:

        Grown woman, with severe dyslexia, who is working on her PhD, and who teaches and tutors secondary students with similar issues. Yes, yes, we can all stop waiving our pedantical bits at one another, someone making a comment on the internet used the wrong word when making a comment about grammar. 

        In your snippiness, however, you entirely missed my point.

        We all know what the kid wanted to say, why on earth except because it is “cute” did the person who transcribed the quote keep it spelled the way he said it? My beef is not with the grammar, nor with the child being unable to pronounce the word, but rather with the person who thought this was a “cute” thing to put in that story. Why? Because for the rest of this kid’s life, someone in his family will bring this up every family get together, and it will embarrass the hell out of him. And, oh yes, it is public record, so his friends and their families, and so on, will all bring this up. All because some jerk reporter thought it was “cute”.

        • yadayada says:

          why on earth except because it is “cute” did the person who transcribed the quote keep it spelled the way he said it?

          So, your real problem is that the transcription doesn’t have ‘sic’ following the word in question?

          And I really think you’re making way too much of this. Did a reporter do something mean to you when you were a kid?

        • wysinwyg says:

          In your snippiness, however, you entirely missed everyone’s point.

          This is simply not a big deal.

          • marilove says:

            Wonder if they are projecting because they like to bully people, or tease people, about this sort of thing?

        • marilove says:

          So, let me get this straight: You want people to be a hard-ass to a SEVEN YEAR OLD, and not find cute things that seven year olds do, well, cute — but you?  You we must treat with kid gloves.


          Look, I don’t care if yo have dyslexia or just lazy, but if you’re going to bitch about someone’s grammar or spelling or they way they talk or write, it may help to look in the mirror first.  GLASS HOUSES, and all that.

        • marilove says:

          Because for the rest of this kid’s life, someone in his family will bring this up every family get together, and it will embarrass the hell out of him

          AND GOOD!  It may give this kid some character!

          Seriously? You really think anyone is going to notice or care what random word a seven year old said?  Or first care enough to look through the “public records” and then make fun of them?

          I am so confused. You’re being ridiculous and not making much sense. 

          Why do you care so very much that some random seven year old MIGHT (MIGHT) be embarrassed (probably not) many years from now about some random word that no one except you cares about?

        • Gilbert Wham says:

           Um, because it’s what the kid actually said?

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      If it’s a word our son is just learning, then it’s cute the first two times, nails on chalkboard-level irritating after that – especially if we discover that his grandmother is encouraging the mispronunciation (which we discovered this past week with the word ‘hamburger’).  

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Give Grandma a horrible new name and use that exclusively when talking about her to your child.
        “Why is he calling me Mammooo?”
        “Why are you encouraging him to say ‘hambooger’?”

        • IronEdithKidd says:

          It was ‘hangaburgler’, but it’s an easy mangle.  Just biding time until he’s old enough for our local pre-K program.  Daycare costs more than my mortgage, so we’re trying to bite our tongues as much as possible on the “free” child care.

  6. Chuck says:

    Journal entry:  “It’s been two days since they ‘disappeared’ Alex.  This isn’t just war.  It goes deeper than that — it’s obvious to me now.  The school administration is in on it with the imaginary evil forces in the box.  …”

  7. Ned Carlson says:

    Gotta love that the school’s response to the outcry has been to delete their facebook page and public facing email.

  8. Mister44 says:

    re: “No weapons (real or play),”

    Does that include “finger guns” and the like? I remember playing Star Wars all the time with finger guns. Now the kids today get to watch the even  more violent Clone Wars. I can’t imagine there not being wonderful space battles to defeat the evil Separatist  army.

    It’s another case of zero tolerance which equals having to use zero brain power to confront a situation with context and rationality.

    • trefecta says:

      That was a rule on my school yard (20 years ago). It wasn’t a suspension, I think you had to stand against the wall or something.

      Since it was the same penalty as throwing rocks, everyone just started throwing rocks.

    • DreamboatSkanky says:

      What about Laser Eyes?  And how are they gonna control Psychic Crush?  These control freak school officials are really opening up a can of worms here.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      Obviously we’re both old, because I also recall playing Star Wars after the first one came out, but never at school, only at the hippy day care I went to after school.  The hippies were all about creative play and didn’t intervene unless there was an altercation.  As my own kid reaches school age, I find that my memories of that day care grow fonder because there’s only authoritarianism awaiting my son in the course of his ‘education’.

      [edited to remove random, superfluous returns]

  9. Thomas Schmidt says:

    This is FUBAR

  10. carlogesualdodivenosa says:

    There’s a cute “Western Day” pictured on the school’s homepage.  Let’s hope none of the children were imagining having weapons!

  11. citizen says:

     How I felt reading this:

  12. bucaneer says:

    The Onion has been publishing stories on many different domains lately, hasn’t it.

  13. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    When is the NRA going to stand up for the rights of imaginary gun owners??? 

  14. rachel ten bruggencate says:

    The school is completely correct in punishing this child.  ‘Imaginary’ behaviours like this can have real-life consequences!  

    For example, I grew up playing ‘X-Men’ in the playground with my friends, a past time I thought harmless back then, and which nobody tried to stop!  Now I am saddled for life with the burden of my resulting mutant powers!

    People, please.  Think of the children!

  15. bzishi says:

    This isn’t the first problem the school has had with this child. He has also been repeatedly scolded because his imaginary friend won’t stop talking in class.

  16. mothernatureseven says:

    America is becoming bullsh!t

  17. Snig says:

    I would wish for the ghost of Fred Rogers to rise and benevolently explain that Play and the powers of Make Believe are good things that we shouldn’t be afraid of. 

  18. legsmalone says:

    I have so many things I want to say here. I think I’ll stick to expressing my thanks that I was out of the system before things got too silly and. Also, if I ever have kids there is zero chance that I could send them to public schools without getting them permanently expelled or taken away. Something about not having that barrier between thinking and speaking that I would hope to pass on to a future generation.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      The insanity extends to charters and private schools.  The only way to avoid the bullshit is to homeschool or leave the country for saner lands.

  19. grp00 says:

    Well if had been a real grenade then the NRA would be jumping to defend the boys 2nd Amendment rights!

  20. Mary Mac says:

    The school needs to hire some imaginary guards with imaginary guns to protect the other students from this vile child.

  21. simonbarsinister says:

     No six-shooters allowed. Smallpox blankets are ok though.

  22. Guest says:

    edit: take all my comments or leave it. deleted

  23. I’m finding it hard to dispend my susbelief, here

  24. Brainspore says:

    This is just how Captain Kirk & Co. finished off the androids in that episode “I, Mudd.”

  25. Reminds me of when I was trying to explain the concept of Heaven and Hell to another kid in preschool and was promptly sent to purgatory for cursing.

  26. donovan acree says:

    People who think absolute or zero tolerance policies are a good idea should not be allowed around children.

  27. jennybean42 says:

    I have a son this boy’s age, and while my child hasn’t been suspended similar issues have come up in school. I have to keep remembering to breathe deeply and tell myself that the skills that make one good at life (thinking for oneself, imagination, questioning authority,) are NOT the same skills that make one good at school. Unfortunately, I don’t have the means for private school or homeschooling or he would be OUT.

  28. Rachael Hoffman-Dachelet says:

    I think this is a really unfortunate extension of some well meaning principles.  For years school administrators had a lot of lee way in discipline.  This was both good and bad.  As part of the social trend of not trusting schools and authority, parents who thought their child was being treated unfairly demanded clearer more proscriptive discipline policies, with consequences applied universally and equally.  At the same time it became increasingly clear that certain groups really were getting more lee-way than others, for example, a white boy who forgot to take his pocket knife out of his jeans pockets after boy scouts doesn’t get suspended for the knife he brought to school, but the black boy who forgot to take the knife he needs for safety in his neighborhood out of his jeans pocket gets expelled.  Throughout my early teaching career the move was towards more and more elaborate, specific, and proscriptive disciplinary policies.  Zero tolerance and tough on crime policies.  Policies which disproportionately impacted students of color, but which had a rock hard patina of “fairness.”

    Add to that the increasing awareness of bullying and emotional threats at school.  A common way for children to threaten or torture each other without getting caught is through silent gestures that create fear.  Making a gun gesture at your victim by way of threatening to actually hurt them later is very common.  So, schools made imaginary weapons against the rules too.  And comments, like: “I’m going to *kill* you.”  Which most people don’t mean literally, they mean it as a statement of frustration and anger.  Trying to control bullying and emotional threat is important, it’s necessary  it’s something boingboing has written about and cares about. But it’s easy to see how the discipline approach above, combined with an honest desire to exert some control over bullying can result in stupid things like a relatively powerless administrator feeling obligated to suspend a kid for his imaginary grenade.  

    Schools can avoid the proscriptive approach, can use more common sense and discretion in working with discipline, but it’s very fuzzy, hard to define, and very hard to write down.  It leaves you open to questions of equity and accountability.  It means you might have to tolerate a kid who screams or swears in the classroom sometimes and doesn’t have an apparent consequence for their actions.  It means the person doing the discipline has to actually have common sense, cultural competency  and be unbiased.  And it takes a whole lot more time, and schools are constantly cutting back staff, including administration, so fewer people are trying to handle more and more discipline issues.  Combined with data privacy laws which limit the information schools can share, it can create an impression that nothing is being done.  

    I still think the suspension was totally stupid.  But I do get how an otherwise reasonable administrator could feel they had no other choice.

  29. Mike Hathaway says:

    To parents of 7 year old.  You can’t fight this crap, try to move your kid into a school without terminally stupid staff.  Be sure your kid understands they did nothing wrong.  Perhaps this is a good time for Disneyland?  Remind your child that most creative people make more money than the loser administrator at their school.

  30. CLamb says:

    If he had thrown an imaginary banana into the box and imagined it exploded would he have been suspended?

  31. Finnagain says:

     Depends. Is this imaginary banana imaginarily sliced, or not?

  32. itsgene says:

    Mary Blair? As in, the wonderful artist Mary Blair? The only thing that could make this more of a perfect Boing Boing story is if the kid was also accused of getting the idea for the imaginary grenade from a copyrighted website that prohibited links to it.

  33. oudeicrat says:

    To save the world you have to break some rules. The boy is a hero and he should be made aware of it. There are evil people in the real world out there who will try to bully him out of doing great stuff and he should be prepared.

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