Arundel board to revisit suspension of student in gun-shaped pastry incident

August 29, 2013|By Joe Burris, The Baltimore Sun

Anne Arundel County Public Schools will revisit a matter next month that garnered national attention earlier this year — the two-day suspension of an 8-year-old student accused of nibbling a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.

School officials say during a closed session at its Sept. 11 meeting, the board will review an appeal by the family of then-Park Elementary School second-grader Joshua Welch, who in March was suspended after biting the pastry into a gun shape and waving it around.

Welch's suspension drew attention locally, nationally and as far away as the United Kingdom and prompted the National Rifle Association in June to extend a lifetime membership to the boy.

Robin Ficker, attorney for the family, attempted in June to have the matter cleared from Welch's record, but that was denied by school officials, prompting the appeal.

Schools spokesman Bob Mosier said details from the board's review will not be made public. He said the board will likely decide among three options: to hold a hearing on the matter, forward it to a hearing examiner or request arguments from Ficker in writing.

Ficker said the Welch family has moved the boy to another school, which he did not name. He reiterated earlier statements that he would appeal to Maryland's highest court if necessary to have Joshua's record expunged.

"He made the statement, 'Look, I've got a gun,' while holding up his pastry," Ficker said. "All the other kids had pastries, so they knew he was playing. He was just using his imagination.

"I would hope [the school board] would grant the appeal and expunge his record and that would be the end of it, instead of them trying to make a federal case out of this," Ficker said.

"If they mean to keep pushing this, so will I; I am going to push this until it ends up in Court of Appeals, and before it's over it will possibly end up on 'Saturday Night Live.'"

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