Mom: Kindergartner's suspension for make-believe gun an overreaction

Posted March 30

— The Hoke County school board held an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to address the case of a 5-year-old girl who was suspended for pretending a stick was a gun.

Brandy Miller said her daughter, Catlin, a student at J.W. McLaughlin Elementary School, was playing a game where two girls pretended to be a princess and queen and she was their security guard. A boy on the playground approached the girls and Catlin pointed the stick at him, Miller said.

Two children on the playground told their teacher that Catlin was holding a gun and shouting “bang, bang.” In a letter to school administrators, the mother of the two children wrote that when a teacher asked Catlin what she was doing, she said she was going to kill them.

In the letter, Yashica Bratcher said that her boys were not told of the game Catlin was playing and that "from a distance, what she had in her hand looked just like a gun."

"As the parent of African-American boys, we have already had to have difficult conversatons about gun violence and hard to explain shootings of young black males. Our sons should be able to go to school and play with their friends on the playground without being threatened with being shot," Bratcher wrote.

School system spokeswoman Jodie Bryant said the principal took Catlin aside and, after considering the school policy against violence and threats, administrators suspended her.

“We have to ensure the safety of all of our students, and we look at each situation, each incident, on its own, and we look at all the facts and everything that has taken place, and in this instance, a child felt threatened and did not feel safe, so it’s our job to ensure that we do what we can from now on so he does feel safe,” Bryant said.

Miller said the one-day suspension for a kindergarten student was too extreme. She believes some other form of discipline, and an explanation to Catlin about why what she did was wrong, would have been more appropriate.

“I can understand that they have policies, but really are the same policies meant to apply to a 5-year-old doing a role-playing game with her friends as they are to a 16-year-old who brings a pistol to school? I just don’t see the correlation,” Miller said.

Miller said it would have been more appropriate for the stick to have been taken away from Catlin and to have her sit in time-out during recess if she did not cooperate.

Nick Sojka, an attorney for the school board, said the school used proper discretion in issuing the suspension and that there are no issues with the district policy on making threats.

Sojka said school system employees have been subject to harassing and threatening calls in response to the decision.


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  • Keith Grossfuss Mar 31, 6:46 p.m.
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    And shows what is exactly wrong with America (United States), As_ hurt, politically correct folks that think they are protecting somebody.... there is a real world out there, and you are doing nobody any favors.

  • Keith Grossfuss Mar 31, 6:40 p.m.
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    Real nice deleting my 1st comment WRAL, Truth hurts...

  • Marlene Watson Mar 31, 3:38 a.m.
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    Lady if u have to explain why young black males are killing each other then maybe you should go into the black community and help don't blame a 5 yr old little girl and do I believe they were scared NO if so then that's your fault! Children are children for crying out loud no more playing no talking no moving no speaking no wonder most hate school please be politically correct bullsh....

  • Jerry Powell Mar 30, 11:13 p.m.
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    Just remember, these two young men are the next generation of snowballs, being raised by the current generation..

  • Chad Stinner Mar 30, 9:50 p.m.
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    This has nothing to do with liberal anything. These are administrators who are completely out of touch with reality. It's just as silly as suspending a young boy for eating his poptart into a shape of a gun.

  • Kristen Ford-Newell Mar 30, 8:48 p.m.
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    The school and administrators are completely out of their minds....This little girl did nothing wrong....she was playing and has an imagination. There are a lot more important things they should be worried and concerned about. Schools are pathetic institutions these days.. They dictate what to think....not how. No more freedom of thought allowed anymore. Glad my child graduated college ..and went to school when it was still normal for a child to play. ( and there was no Commie Core)

  • Keith Grossfuss Mar 30, 8:15 p.m.
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    agreed, there are good black families good white's the bad of both dragging the Country, don't know why this got me....just I think it's not a race thing...just a sorry thing.

  • Cynthia M Mar 30, 8:05 p.m.
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    Notice how the race card was played by the other students' wonder kids are so messed up these days!

  • Thomas Williams Mar 30, 8:02 p.m.
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    Scary to think these kind of administrators are actually in charge of our kids educational process. These people need a lesson in common sense themselves before they take charge of our children. Personally, I wouldn't want my kids involved in any program that is run by a bunch of imbeciles such as these seem to be.