A second-grade student at an Anne Arundel County elementary school was suspended for two days Friday after school officials said he chewed a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun, an incident that has drawn widespread national media attention.
The school, Park Elementary in Brooklyn Park, sent a letter home to parents regarding the incident. The child's father, William "B.J." Welch, alerted local media to the incident, and Welch and his son Josh, 7, soon found themselves on CNN and Fox News, while conservative bloggers across the country opined on the matter.
The pastry "gun" was a rectangular, strawberry-filled bar, akin to a Pop-Tart, that the second-grader had tried to nibble into the shape of a mountain Friday morning, but then found it looked more like a gun, B.J. Welch said.
Welch said an assistant principal at Park Elementary School told him that his son pointed the pastry at a classmate — though the child maintains he pointed it at the ceiling.
"In my eyes, it's irrelevant; I don't care who he pointed it at," Welch said. "It was harmless. It was a Danish."
The suspension comes during a national conversation about gun control and school safety in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Anne Arundel schools spokesman Bob Mosier said Monday the pastry in question was a breakfast bar that was "part of the schoolwide breakfast program that is served daily at Park Elementary." He declined to comment further.
The letter that the school sent home to parents encouraged them to remind their children "of the importance of making good choices."
"During breakfast this morning, one of our students used food to make inappropriate gestures that disrupted the class," said the letter, which also was posted on the schools' website. "While no physical threats were made and no one was harmed, the student had to be removed from the classroom."
The letter said the school system's student handbook outlines the system's code of conduct, as well as consequences students face when it is violated.
The letter said Anne Arundel County schools' procedures were followed "to address the student's actions and communicate with the student's family." It also said the school's counselor would be available this week to meet with students on the matter.
Welch said he asked the assistant principal if anyone had been scared by the pastry. Someone could have been, he said he was told.
The father said he had high regard for the school. He found the episode puzzling.
"I feel this is just a direct result of society feeling that guns are evil and guns are bad ... and if you make your pastry into a gun, you're going to be the next Columbine shooter," Welch said.
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