School Doubles Down on Suspending Boy for Pop Tart Gnawed into Gun Shape

According to Steve Watson at, the school district is continuing to justify itself for suspending Josh Welch for eating a pop tart into the shape of a gun and keeping it on his permanent record.

They are claiming that he not only made the gun shape but that he also ran around pointing at it and making gun noises.

In a school hearing a few weeks ago, however, the Principal asserted that the suspension should be upheld, arguing that the punishment was based not on the pastry incident, but on Josh, who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, having a history of disrupting class.

The Anne Arundel County Public Schools Superintendent agreed with the Principal and denied the request to remove the suspension, prompting the boy’s family to file an appeal with the county Board of Education.

That appeal now also looks set to fail as hearing examiner Andrew W. Nussbaum has submitted a 30-page opinion piece to the board, recommending the suspension be upheld.

 “The evidence is clear that suspension is used as a last resort,” Nussbaum writes, rejecting the family’s assertion that the school has overreacted to a one off incident.

“As much as the parents want this case to be about a ‘gun,’ it is, rather, a case about classroom disruption from a student who has had a long history of disruptive behavior and for whom the school had attempted a list of other strategies and interventions before resorting to a suspension.” Nussbaum adds.

“Had the student chewed his cereal bar into the shape of a cat and ran around the room, disrupting the classroom and making ‘meow’ cat sounds, the result would have been exactly the same.” the examiner asserts.

The school officials have had many months to develop their story. Let’s assume that they are telling the truth that the then-seven-year-old child was a discipline problem due to hyperactivity. Then we are faced with two choices: 1) that the father completely made up the story about a zero-tolerance policy about guns being behind the suspension (and all other sources of that story in the news were likewise fabricated) or 2) the school did indeed invoke the zero tolerance rule.

I have a hard time believing that the parents made it up. So, if we assume that the school is now telling the truth, then what we really learn is that the school used the zero tolerance policy in order to deal with a constant annoyance in their classroom.

Does that sound like a good way to do discipline in a school? I don’t think so.

Also, in all the controversy about the pastry shape, the real scandal here is being overlooked: a mere seven-year-old has a permanent record that can be marked up for childish misbehavior so that it follows him the rest of his school life.