An 11-year-old special needs student was suspended from a New Jersey elementary school for possession of a “Nerf bullet.”
According to the Atlantic City school district, fifth grader Aarin Moody’s foam dart, which had a toothpick embedded in the tip, resembled a makeshift knife.
“It’s a toy with a toothpick on it,” the boy’s mother, Michelle Moody, told CBS.
Aarin, who accidentally left the Nerf bullet in his pocket, says the toothpick allowed him to make the dart stick in the dirt.
“I pulled out my late slip and that’s when the item fell out of my pocket and a teacher had seen it,” Aarin said.
Michelle received a call from the school’s vice principal shortly after and was informed that her son, who had been taken to the office by a security guard, would be expelled for possessing a self constructed weapon “capable of lethal use or inflicting serious bodily injury.”
“It sound completely ludicrous to me that my son would be expelled for a Nerf bullet,” Michelle said.
Aarin states that the school repeatedly attempted to have admit that he intentionally brought the dart to school for nefarious reasons.
“They want me to like say that I did it on purpose [and] I put it in my pocket to hurt someone,” Aarin said.
The threat of expulsion was eventually lowered to a five-day in-school suspension, which Michelle feels is still too harsh.
“It’s mind baffling to me that someone would even take something as small as this to the highest extreme,” said Michelle.
Situations such as Aarin’s have become a regular occurrence throughout the public school system, where school administrators demand militant adherence to “zero tolerance” policies.
In September of 2013 a 9-year-old Detroit boy was suspended after a teacher accused him of merely holding his toy spinning top like a gun, a claim the boy vehemently denied.
A 7-year-old Maryland student was suspended that same year in a now infamous case surrounding a pop-tart breakfast pastry allegedly chewed into the shape of a gun.
Also in 2013, a 5-year-old girl was suspended for “terroristic threats” after another student found her discussion on “Hello Kitty Bubble guns” to be offensive.