While the national gun debate wages on, school administrators have certainly tightened the reins when it comes to allowing anything even remotely gun-related in classrooms—and that goes for toys, too. (Those days of bringing a Nerf water gun to school for some practical joking in the lunch room? Long gone.)
And though we can certainly get behind most of the newly banned items, one recent story out of Rhode Island had us scratching our heads.
According to WJAR news in Coventry, R.I., 12-year-old Joseph Lyssikatos just landed himself a three-day suspension for having a tiny, gun-shaped key chain in his possession. The trinket, which he says fell out of his bag accidentally, was picked up and waved around by a fellow student when it caught the attention of a teacher—who then sent Lyssikatos straight to the principal.
On top of a three-day suspension, the tween was handed a double-whammy: he's also banned from an upcoming field trip.
Yikes. Seems a little harsh, no? Especially considering the key chain was no more than the size of a quarter.
Needless to say, Lyssikatos's parents aren't exactly happy with how the whole situation was handled.
Aside from the harsh punishment, Joseph's stepmother Bonnie Bonanno also doesn't get why her kid was the only one who wound up in the hot seat. “This [other] boy was the one waving it or showing it to other kids. Not Joseph,” she told WJAR. “Joseph wasn’t doing that so why weren’t both of them reprimanded?”
The 12-year-old, whose school record otherwise boasts honors classes and a near-perfect attendance record, innocently told reporters that he got the key chain at a local arcade in exchange for 25 tickets.
But officials at the Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School where Lyssikatos was suspended don't seem to be recanting any bit of the punishment. And they've been pretty mum on the whole situation, according to reports. “Because this is a student discipline issue, we cannot comment on any specifics,” an official statement to WJAR news said.
Meanwhile, the boy's father, Keith Bonanno, told WPRO radio that the school's behavioral specialist said his son was "lucky that he didn't get suspended for 10 days, or even worse expelled."
It seems the school's handbook has a pretty strict no-tolerance policy in this area, declaring: “Possession/carrying/use of/threat of use of a firearm or replica shall result in a recommendation for expulsion for a period of time up to one full calendar year.”
What do you think: did the school officials go too far?