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Pretend Gun Crime
Boy Suspended for Pointing Chicken
January 31, 2001

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) An 8-year-old boy was suspended from school for 3 days after pointing a breaded chicken finger at a teacher and saying, "Pow, pow, pow."

The incident apparently violated the Jonesboro School District's zero-tolerance policy against weapons. The boy was suspended last week.

Kelli Kissinger, mother of first-grader Christopher, said she believed the punishment was too severe.

"I think a chicken strip is something insignificant," she said. "It's just a piece of chicken. How could you play like it's a gun?"

South Elementary principal Dan Sullivan said he was prevented by law from discussing Christopher's suspension.

Sullivan said the school has zero-tolerance rules because the public wants them.

In March 1998, four students and a teacher were killed and 10 others wounded when two youths opened fire on a schoolyard at Jonesboro's Westside Middle School.

"People saw real threats to the safety and security of their students," Sullivan said.

A school discipline form provided by the boy=s mother and signed by Sullivan says the child was suspended because he "took a chicken strip off his plate, pointed it at (a teacher) and said 'Pow, pow, pow,' like he was shooting her."

Sullivan said punishment for a threat "depends on the tone, the demeanor, and in some manner you judge the intent. It's not the object in the hand, it's the thought in the mind. Is a plastic fork worse than a metal fork? Is a pencil a weapon?"


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