The little boy did not want to take off his backpack. His kindergarten teacher wanted it removed.
The boy then gave the best excuse he could think of as a reason not to take off the empty backpack.
He got a suspension for terrorism by telling her it would explode if he took it off.
“My son never made a threat, never wanted to blow up the school. He was almost victimizing himself in his imagination, making himself the hero,” said Ian Riley, father of Jackson Riley, 5.
“It’s all in the world of pretend play and we’re talking about an imaginary bomb, but where was the threat?” his mother, Michelle Riley, asked. “We still haven’t received a clear answer.”
Ian Riley said when Great Valley Academy charter school first called him to tell him his son was being suspended and to pick him up and remove him from school, he did not understand the school’s logic.
“I said, ‘I’ll come get him, but I’m not sure what a suspension will do for a 5-year-old.’ They said, ‘It’s what we have to do,’” he said.
Riley is not angry with the teacher.
“We have two kids there and the teachers are amazing,” he said. “Our issue is with the administration’s knee-jerk reaction.”
That reaction has kept Jackson’s parents busy, because the school insists the incident has to be on the boy’s permanent record, while the parents want it removed. The debate is still working its way through meetings between the parents and school officials.
Initially the school accused the child of having “intentionally engaged in harassment, threats or intimidation.” The parents found the rule book and said that charge could only be leveled against students in grades four through 12.
Not to be denied, the school amended its letter declaring that the boy “made terrorist threats to school officials,” Riley said.
What about the child?
“He’s a happy boy and still is a happy boy,” Riley said. “We didn’t come down on him with fire and fury over this.”
He said the boy told his parents he was pretending and pranking.
“We told him not everybody wants to be pranked,” Riley said.
(via: Western Journalism)