A parent of a Jefferson County student who was suspended earlier this month for pretending his finger was a gun in a game of cops and robbers spoke out during "Alabama Unfiltered" on Montgomery's NewsTalk 93.1 on Tuesday.
"I was really shocked that this happened in Alabama," said Jerrod Belcher, whose son attends Bagley Elementary School in Dora. "I wouldn't have been half surprised if it had happened in, say, California or New York, but I never would've expected this to happen here."
Belcher said administrators at the school called him on Friday, September 1, to tell him his 6-year-old first grader was suspended.
"I asked her, 'Can you tell me why?' and she just said, 'He was using a finger gun," Belcher explained. "And then I thought, 'There's got to be more to it than this."
After arriving at the school, he and his wife met with assistant principal Donna Page, who once again told them their son got in trouble because he and another boy were playing and using their index fingers as make-believe guns.
"Was he hurting anyone?" Belcher asked. "Was there any violence or physical contact? No. Was there any hostility? No. Was there any indication of a current or future threat? She said no. I said, 'It kind of just sounds like two boys playing cops and robbers,' and she said, 'That's what it was. They were playing."
Belcher said his son has never had any disciplinary problems in the past.
"This happened one time, and this went zero to one hundred," he added. "... I told her in the meeting, 'I'm not going to punish him for this," Belcher added. "In fact, when we're leaving, I'm taking him for ice cream."
Despite his story being taken up by national outlets like Fox News and the Babylon Bee's non-satire newsfeed Not the Bee, Belcher said he has yet to hear from Bagley Elementary principal Ammie Dawson.
According to Belcher, school officials issued his son a Class III violation, the most severe disciplinary infraction category in Jefferson County Schools, which includes significant crimes like bringing a physical gun to school, issuing a bomb threat or committing sexual assault.
He said the school later tried to lower the infraction to Class II, which still includes a half-day suspension.
But Belcher is still putting up a fight. His attorney sent a letter to Jefferson County Schools on Friday demanding that the school remove any record of a criminal infraction from Belcher's son's record.
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