School suspends 11-year-old for saying the word ‘gun’

School bus

Photo credit: WMAL

A second controversy has surfaced in Calvert County, Maryland, where a parent has come forward admitting his 11-year-old son received a 10-day suspension for talking about guns on the bus ride home back in December.

Bruce Henkelman said his son was talking about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings with his friends when the bus driver returned him to the school to speak with the principal, Darrel Prioleau.

“The principal told me that with what happened at Sandy Hook if you say the word ‘gun’ in my school you are going to get suspended for 10 days,” Henkelman said in an interview with

Henkelman said no one was threatened or bullied in any way.

“He said, I wish I had a gun to protect everyone. He wanted to defeat the bad guys. That’s the context of what he said,” Henkelman said. “He wanted to be the hero.”

The principal and a sheriff’s deputy questioned the boy, then wanted to search the family’s home without a warrant according to Henkelman.

“He started asking me questions about if I have firearms, and [the deputy said] he’s going to have to search my house,” Henkelmansaid. “Search my house?  I just wanted to know what happened.”

After Henkelman answered a four-page questionnaire, the deputy left without searching the home. WMAL made calls and sent emails to the school, but no one would comment.

While the suspension was later reduced to one day, the ACLU of Maryland said the school made a poor choice.

“It’s appropriate for school officials to investigate when there is a concern about student safety. But based on what’s been described to us, once the school official concluded that all the young man wanted to do was to be safe at school and that he posed no risk to anyone, the suspension was really inappropriate,” Sonya Kumar, an ACLU staff attorney told WMAL. She noted that too many schools were handing out harsh punishments for relatively harmless offenses.

According to WMAL:

Henkelman said the incident happened last December right before students were sent home for winter break, but he did not feel compelled to take his story to the public until he learned that a 5-year-old Calvert County boy was suspended for bringing a toy cap gun on a school bus.

Last week, a 5-year-old in the same county was interrogated for two hours, until he wet his pants, over a cap gun. That child also received a 10-day suspension.

Listen to the audio report via WMAL here.

Cheryl Carpenter Klimek

Cheryl Carpenter Klimek has been a political consultant handling public affairs, political campaigns and PAC management for nearly 20 years.


  • Rose

    My response to that deputy would have been to take his questionnaire and return with a warrant if he wanted to search my home.

    • John Carr

      I'm sure I would have taken it just a little farther. I would have told the deputy to shove the questionnaire where the sun didn't shine.

  • Jill

    In the 70's when I was a kid, we played cops and robbers.

    Imagine what would happen today if the grade school kids did that. What in the heck are we teaching our kids?? This child wanted to be a protector, like a police officer. He wants to help people and because of that he got suspended ?

  • http://Bizpacreview Ritchie

    Ahhh The ACLU , Gotta love it whenever they are involved . Yeah you know how big of a threat an 11 year old is . What has this country become . This isn't the same America i knew and loved .

  • Jerry W. Price

    Every kid in the school should say the word gun every day. Then what would the idiot administrators do then? 10 day holiday?

  • Carol

    We have raised 2 boys. I don't know why, maybe it's just their nature, but they (boys) love to be protective, and they like guns. There I said it. I said the "g" word! It "should" have been obvious to the those in charge that this boy was no more harmful than the boy with the cap gun. Wow, what a sad thing when kids can't be kids anymore.

  • http://none BGH222

    I wonder if either of these children were given their 4th and 5 amendment rights. Just because they are children does not take away their rights. They should have been assigned a child advocate if their parents were now available.

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  • Ron

    It looks like the fix is in and the word is out – now you can't even say the word GUN without getting into trouble. Our government is doing everything they can to disarm us. What will they do once we no longer have guns to protect ourselves?

  • Steve

    Perhaps the wrong individual was suspended…and yet no one is held responsible once again. I'm sure Mr. Henkleman is steamed and for good reason. Having li Ed in Maryland before I am always remi des if why I left that welfare state!

  • Anymouse

    When will society realize we have lost our way with the ridiculous iver-reaction and bureaucratic over-reach regarding guns? It seems to me that the bigger threat is the lame brain, no discretion, left wing "educators" who assault our children everyday with liberal BS. We never would have won our independence from England if these jack-wagons were around in 1776. Guns are a part of the fabric of our society, we should embrace our Heritage, not run from it.

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