Richmond middle school student suspended for plastic object mist - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Richmond middle school student suspended for plastic object mistaken for gun

Source: NBC12 Source: NBC12

A Richmond middle school student was suspended for holding a piece of plastic that he says was mistaken for a gun. The incident resulted in him being told to stay home for school for five days. Now, a state lawmaker is weighing in on how area schools are disciplining students.

This follows an issue NBC 12 first reported earlier this week. The U.S. office of Civil Rights is investigating claims Richmond Schools suspends students far too often. State delegate Jeff Bourne says it's time to do something.

"It made no sense to me," said parent Adrian Saunders.

She says she couldn’t believe the five-day suspension administrators at Elkhardt-Thompson Middle gave her 8th grade son. She says it was all over a plastic part from a chair.

"He found it at school. He took it with him on the bus, and they say that’s how he pointed it off of the bus," Saunders said.

The student says automatic suspension is a common practice whenever there's a discipline concern.

"They suspend you for no reason, just because you have your hood on," he said.

"What do you think they should do instead?" NBC 12 asked.

"Give us detention. They don’t even give us detention anymore," the 8th grader replied.

"Obviously, it’s not a gun," said Delegate Jeff Bourne when NBC 12 showed him the image.

He questions if suspension was the most appropriate action. The state lawmaker is a former School Board Chair for Richmond Schools.

"I would encourage the school system to take the steps necessary to really address these systemic problems," he said.

Alleged problems are outlined in a complaint to the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, which is now investigating concerns RPS suspends students at a higher rate than other school districts - especially, the complaint says, when it comes to African-American and students with disabilities.

"If something new needs to be proposed, I’m happy to do it  and I’m willing to do it…Capping the number of days you can long-term suspend a student, eliminating long term suspensions for any student from K to 3," Bourne suggested.

"We need to be in school. We need our education right?" the 8th grader added.

"If it was a weapon, I would’ve felt in danger for everybody and yes I would have wanted them to have taken action whether it’s my child or not," Saunders said.

NBC 12 is awaiting a response from the school system about the mistaken gun. When it comes to the practice of suspending students in general, the district says it is working to be fair and consistent, which means even offering more training for staff.

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved

Report an Error or Submit a Tip to NBC12

Powered by Frankly