Second grader suspended after drawing picture of watergun

by Lynn Berry

A simple stick drawing has landed a New Jersey second-grader in trouble.

The picture got the child suspended from his Cape May County school.

The sketch showed two stick figures. One, with what the student said is a water gun, pointed at the other.

When seven-year-old Kyle Walker drew the picture showing him shooting at his friend David while riding on a school bus last week, his mother Shirley McDevitt said she wasn't concerned.

"When a child draws at that age, they are not drawing something with thought," she said. "Especially when Kyle told me, 'Mom it was a water gun' and he does not have a problem with David."

David showed the picture to his parents who turned it over to Dennis Township primary school officials who sent home a letter saying it was a threat and suspended Kyle for a day noting they have a zero tolerance violence policy.

"It states that they will not tolerate guns, knives, weapons being brought into the schools and if his pencil drawing is a weapon then I'm sorry," McDevitt said.

Jenna Arch's little sister is a friend of Kyle's.

"I think kids will be kids," Arch said. "It does concern me to an extent but like I said he's a child. I think he's expressing his art."

Kyle was back in school Monday.

Heather Sudll, a parent, said a picture like that should raise some eyebrows.

"You have to take precautions these days especially with all the shootings taking place in schools," she said. "It taught him a lesson at least, and it will teach the other kids."

McDevitt said the suspension did not teach Kyle a lesson.

"They taught him nothing," she said. "They taught him that if he draws a gun, he can get a day off from school. And the only thing that bothers me -- they kept my child from a day of learning."

The school district released a statement saying, "It is the position of the Dennis Township Board of Education to protect and preserve the confidentiality rights of all of our public school students in the Township of Dennis. These rights are afforded to school children under federal and state statutes."

"Therefore, the district believes that any discussion regarding students or student matters will violate those statutory rights. This would be to the detriment of not only this child, but all school children in the state of New Jersey," the statement said.

The district had no further comment on the matter.