Brandy Miller’s five-year-old daughter Caitlin was suspended for a day from her Hoke County, North Carolina kindergarten on March 24 for threatening other students because she picked up a wooden stick that looked like a gun on the playground. Although Caitlin was back at school on March 28, her mother was outraged by the school’s decision.
Here’s what you need to know about Caitlin’s case.
1. Caitlin Says She Was Playing ‘King and Queen’ With Her Friends
After her daughter was suspended, Miller took her story to ABC affiliate WTVD. Miller said the situation began on March 24, when the school principal called her and told her what happened.
Caitlin told the station that she and her friends were playing “King and Queen.” She pretended to be a guard for a royal family. She saw a stick that looked like a gun, so she picked it up and pretended to shoot another student who was entering her kingdom.
2. Hoke County Schools Said Caitlin Violated the Policy on Assault, Threats & Harassment
Hoke County Schools told WTVD that Caitlin was suspended because she violated policy 4331, which centers on assaults, threats and harassment.
The policy reads:
The board will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student. Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning.
In this case, the school decided to suspend Caitlin for a day because of her behavior.
3. Miller Said No One Explained to Caitlin at First Why She Was in Trouble
In the WTVD report, Miller said that Caitlin was suddenly dragged away from her friends, without anyone telling her why at first.
“One minute she’s playing with her friends, and the next her teachers are dragging her to the principal’s office,” Miller told WTVD. “She’s confused. Nobody’s explaining anything to her.”
4. Cailtin’s Mom Thinks This Was ‘Blown Out of Proportion’ By the School
Miller has taken to Facebook to complain about her daughter’s treatment. “Well Caitlin is suspended from school for pretend shooting people with a stick that looks like a gun. By the way, she’s 5 years old and in KINDERGARTEN,” Miller wrote on March 24.
In public Facebook conversations, Miller has shared photos of the letter the school sent, along with another image that showed the stick that got her daughter in trouble. In one message, Miller wrote that her daughter now feels like her teachers don’t like her.
“I feel bad for her. She feels like all the teachers hate her,” Miller said of her daughter. “I can’t imagine being 5 and feeling that way. Apparently, the schools have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of play with a “weapon-like object.” It’s pissing me off that one minute she’s running around playing with her friends, and the next minute her teacher is snatching her up and dragging her to the office to get suspended. She was so scared and confused. Caitlin is a handful, but I feel like this was way blown out of proportion.”
Miller also told one person on Facebook that she did tell Caitlin that she can’t tell people that she’s going to kill them. But Caitlin told her that she never said that.
“She looked at me confused and said ‘I never said that?’ She had no reason to lie because she’s not in trouble here and she typically doesn’t lie, so I believe her,” Miller wrote. “I think they made that part up. Caitlin is a thorn in their side and they are forever finding reasons for her to be in trouble. All of which are typical kid behavior.”
According to the Facebook posts, Caitlin’s father is serving in the military. She has an older sister and a younger brother.
5. A 4-Year-Old Was Suspended For Bringing a Shell Casing to School in Illinois
Kids bringing actual guns and weapons to school have become common stories, although Caitlin’s is different. She didn’t have a real weapon and was just using her imagination.
On March 22, Kristy Jackson of Collinsville, Illinois told Fox 2 that her four-year-old son Hunter was suspended from preschool for bringing a shell casing from a fired bullet to school. Her story also went viral after she posted a message on Facebook.
“He’s cried about it and he doesn’t understand why his school hates him,” Jackson said of her son.
In another case this month in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, two 14-year-old boys were taken into police custody for bringing a loaded gun and ammunition to their junior high school, notes Fox 11.
In another story from 2013, a five-year-old girl was suspended from a Pennsylvania school for pretending to shoot another student with a bubble gun.