An autistic boy at Hillcrest Middle School in Greenville, S.C. was suspended for drawing a cartoonish bomb and showing his friends, reports MSN Now on Oct. 16. Rhett Parham, much like other young boys, enjoys the classic video game Bomber Man and drew a picture of an old style kettle bomb with a fuse. His innocent drawing ignited some real controversy however after older boys at the school blew him in.
Rhett’s mother, Amy Parham, said she was called in to the school last week where the principal told her that Rhett would be suspended indefinitely while the school board looks into the incident.
As you can imagine, Amy was outraged.
“They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent,” said Parham. “They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go without making an example of him and without having some type of action because they were worried about their perception. Perception is actually the word he used. He, a school official, said ‘Perception is reality, Rhett, and the parents will perceive maybe you have a bomb or you’re violent.’”
After what amounted to a two-day suspension, Rhett was reinstated after a hearing on Wednesday. The school agreed to lift the suspension after they determined the episode was connected to the child's disability.
Before we place blame on overreacting school officials, it would seem that the Parham family is not sharing the full details of what actually occurred. It would be highly unusual for a school to “indefinitely” suspend a special needs child over just a drawing, and a statement from the school implies as much.
Greenville County Schools spokesman Oby Lyles released this statement on Wednesday saying:
"It is troubling that incomplete and inaccurate information has been shared by the mother about the incident involving her child at Hillcrest Middle School. School districts are prohibited by law from releasing specific student discipline information without parental permission. The district prefers full disclosure of the incident, but the mother has refused our request to allow details about the incident to be released.
The school administration responded appropriately when threatening comments were made, investigated it fully, and acted in accord with applicable laws, policies and procedures to bring this incident to its proper closure."