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.


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