A Pennsylvania elementary school called the police on a kindergartner with Down syndrome for making a finger gun gesture at her teacher. Although officials concluded there was no threat, the girl’s mother says they went too far.
Maggie Gaines, the mother of the six-year-old student, asked the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District to update its threat assessment policy after her daughter was questioned for pretending to shoot her teacher with a finger gun. Though, Gaines said it was a harmless expression of anger, the school deemed her actions threatening and conducted a threat assessment.
According to CNN, the district said calling law enforcement is part of its safety protocol. But Gaines said in her daughter’s case, the district misinterpreted its own policy. “It was very clear from the beginning that she didn’t understand what she was saying,” Gaines said. “Her having Down syndrome is one aspect of it, but I’m sure most six-year-olds don’t understand what that means.”
Gaines wrote a grievance statement to the school board late last month, although the incident happened in November. “I am well aware that we live in a time when parents are concerned for their children’s safety in school,” she wrote.” But I also think our society and our schools across the country have overreacted with respect to perceived threats, resulting in even finger guns wielded by kindergarteners being viewed as cause to alert authorities.”
Police filed a report on the incident that named the six-year-old, but the school district told CNN that police did not create criminal or juvenile records for Margot.