A Maryland judge has upheld the suspension of a second-grader who chewed his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and pretended to shoot classmates.
Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth ruled this week that the school system could reasonably consider that the boy’s actions in March 2013 were disruptive and that a suspension was appropriate, due to the boy’s past behavioral issues, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Josh Welch, then 7 years old, suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Park Elementary School suspended him for two days after he nibbled his pastry into what administrators said resembled a gun and exclaimed: “Look, I made a gun!”
The story swept national news and Josh quickly became an icon among gun rights activists. The National Rifle Association even awarded him with a lifetime membership.
It also inspired Florida lawmakers to pass a bill in 2014 limiting zero-tolerance practices at schools, including punishment for “brandishing partially consumed pastry,” or other food items, to simulate a weapon, the Post reported.
Josh’s father, William “B.J.” Welch, told the Post that he will still seek to clear his son’s record.
“It’s a mark on his record for something that doesn’t need to be there,” Mr. Welch said. “There’s just a lot of unknowns, and I don’t want something that could potentially debilitate his future.”
Judge Silkworth’s decision upheld an earlier ruling that supported the two-day suspension from the Maryland State Board of Education. Anne Arundel County school officials welcomed the ruling.
“We have believed from the outset that the actions of the school staff were not only appropriate and consistent with Board of Education policies and school system regulations, but in the best interests of all students,” said Bob Mosier, a school system spokesman, the Post reported. “It is unfortunate that the character of those staff members has been called into question throughout this long process, but we are grateful that Judge Silkworth reaffirmed the validity of their actions.”