A mother of a young girl with down syndrome is speaking out against her daughter’s school after they called the police in response to her daughter making a finger gun with her hand and pretending to “shoot” a teacher.
Maggie Gaines is mom to six-year-old Margot. Margot reportedly “got frustrated and pointed her finger at her teacher and said, ‘I shoot you,’” Maggie told CBS 3. “At that point, they went to the principal’s office, and it was quickly assessed that she didn’t even really know what she was saying.”
However, due to the school’s policy of calling the police any time a teacher is threatened by a student, they moved forward with making the call. “I get this phone call, and I was fine with everything up until calling the police,” Margot’s mom told CBS 3.
“And I said, ‘You absolutely do not have to call the police. You know, this is ridiculous.” Margot “really didn’t understand what she was saying,” her mom told the local news station.
Mom Speaks After Daughter’s School Calls Police on the 6-Year-Old for Making a Finger Gun
The incident occurred on November 19 at the elementary school in Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania. Last month, Maggie shared a letter directed to the Township’s school board about their mishandling of the situation.
On February 4, Maggie appeared before the school board in an effort to update their policy. Before meeting with the board, the family also reached out to Pennsylvania state senator Andrew Dinniman, who responded with the following statement:
“As a state senator, an educator, and a parent, I am concerned when I hear that such important decisions appear to be guided blindly by written policy or legal interpretation without those in positions of authority using their judgment, experience, and common sense to weigh in. Furthermore, I am alarmed that a school seems to be acting as an extension of the police department in promulgating data and records on children as young as kindergartners.”
The school is now reviewing its policy and released a response as well. “When developing the current practice, the District worked collaboratively with parents, law enforcement and private safety/mental health agencies and legal consultants to ensure our safety measures reflected considerable input from both our local community and experts in the field of school safety,” it said.
Gaines continued, “She really didn’t understand what she was saying, and having Down syndrome is one aspect, but I’m sure all 6-year-olds don’t really know what that means. Now, there is a record at the police that says she made a threat to her teacher.”
For now, the school’s policy remains the same and a police record of the incident is on file, though it is confidential.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.
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