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8-year-old kicked out of school for making gun of rolled-up paper

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Say the word gun. On second, don’t say it! Don’t even think it. If you do, your kid might get thrown out of school.

Yes, I’m exaggerating, but not by that much. The New York Post reports that an 8-year-old boy was expelled from a special-needs school in New York City for threatening his peers with a rolled-up sheet of paper. A sane person would ask, “What harm can come of swatting another person with a rolled-up paper?” But Asher Palmer’s offense wasn’t that he was waving his paper tube at other children. It was the fact that he pointed it … as though (some might imagine) it were a gun.

Principal Micaela Bracamonte explained the seemingly rash reaction by noting that Asher “had a model for physically aggressive behavior in his immediate family.’’ Translation: The child’s stepfather served in the military during the Kuwait war, and the two have had conversations about military weapons.

The school claimed Asher also said he’d “kill’’ a girl in a separate incident — a typical argument between youngsters. While her son may have made the threat, [Asher’s mother Melina] Spadone said, people use the word “kill’’ all the time, and it shouldn’t be taken literally.

“Asher is exactly the type of student Lang [School] is supposed to be serving,” an outraged Spadone told The Post. But Bracamonte is sticking to her guns … er — not backing down. The child’s teachers, she maintains, told him not to point his “gun” at anyone. When he disregarded that instruction, he also effectively violated the school’s zero tolerance policy.

After Asher’s expulsion, Spadone emailed Bracamonte, writing:

I am stunned … We did not invest $120,000 toward Asher’s success for a five-month period. It was understood, and, in fact, contractually agreed, that Asher would be returning next year.’

The principal wrote back:

I don’t see it tenable at this stage that Asher receive a warning for the specific behavior we’ve agreed on targeting — i.e. use of pretend guns on fellow students and mention of killing.’

[Asher] had a concrete plan for killing [a female student] that he would not retract after discussion with our psych staff … that he was physically and verbally aggressive at a whole new level only last week … He might well present a risk to the emotional and possibly (though remotely so) physical safety and well-being of his classmates.’

Incidents like this one point to a frightening new trend in society that every parent and non-parent should fear. It is not the danger of Asher Palmer growing up into a psycho and returning his school to exact revenge. The risk rather is that basket cases like Micaela Bracamonte and her underlings are free to roam the nation’s streets.

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