A Calvert County elementary school student was suspended last week for bringing a toy gun onto a school bus to show a friend, according to a lawyer representing his family.
At a two-hour meeting Friday between officials, the boy, his parents and the attorney, the school system agreed to end the suspension early, and the student will be able to return to classes for the rest of the year.
"You can tell by looking at him and listening to him that this kid doesn't have an ounce of malice in his heart," said Robin Ficker, the lawyer. "He's simply showing his little 5-year-old friend a cap gun."
The student is the second in Maryland to be suspended in similar circumstances in recent months, at a time of still-heightened sensitivity to guns in schools after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last year. In March, Josh Welch, 8, an Anne Arundel County student was suspended after nibbling a breakfast tart into the shape of a gun.
Officials at the meeting told Ficker they lacked the authority to wipe the suspension from the boy's permanent file, so he will be taking that issue up with the superintendent's office. If necessary, Ficker said, he'll take the fight to the courts.
Having the suspension on file can hurt a student as he progresses through school, Ficker added.
"It brands them a bad kid," he said.
The boy in the Calvert County case has not been identified, and Ficker declined to give his parents' names because the student's mother works for the school system. But she told The Washington Post that she was concerned her son had been questioned for two hours before she was informed about what was going on.
"The school was quite obviously taking it very seriously, and he's 5 years old," she told the paper. "Why were we not immediately contacted?"
She told The Post that the school's principal informed her that had the cap gun had caps in it, police would have been called in.
No one with Calvert County public schools could be reached for comment Saturday.
The Anne Arundel case was ridiculed by some state Republicans, who this week presented Josh with a gift membership to the National Rifle Association.
"Obviously, only Democrats in Maryland would think this is dangerous," House of Delegates Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke said at a fundraiser last week as he wielded a pastry "gun." "Always remember safe handling of your Pop-Tarts. The Democrats will be outraged by this, but too bad."
A schools spokesman called it "outrageous" for the politician to "exploit" the student.