6-year-old expelled after taking plastic toy gun to school

Published: Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:23 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2013 at 10:23 PM EST
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SUMTER, SC (WIS) - "You can fire it as many times as you want, it won't come out" said 6-year-old Naomi McKinney. "It's duct taped because it's broken."

McKinney took her brother's air soft gun to school January 4th. The school kept it.

"It was broken and I just wanted to show my friends it" McKinney said.

She never got that far at Alice Drive Elementary.  

"I told Ms. Frye that I had the gun and she took it from my hand," said McKinney. McKinney was taken to the office and police were called.

Her father, Hank McKinney, admits some fault.

"I'll take some of the responsibility because I never had that talk with her," he said.  "We don't check her. I didn't check her bag that morning."

But he feels the district's zero tolerance policy goes too far to not take into consideration the gun was just a toy.

"Maybe they can do these things case by case, instead of one size fits all," said McKinney.

District policy says it will expel any student who brings a weapon to school. A weapon means a firearm.

The district would only give us this statement: "The presence of a weapon or look alike is not allowed, and we work very closely with law enforcement when an incident of this nature arises. Sumter School District takes any potential threat very seriously."

McKinney is on Administrative Homebased Services, meaning home schools. The State Department of Education says that's illegal.

"Homebound instruction in South Carolina is permissible only for medically necessary reasons with appropriate documentation from the child's physician," said J.W. Ragley with the state Department of Education.  "School districts are not permitted to claim the additional funding that goes along with homebound instruction."

They're sending their own letter to the district. The McKinney's can hold her out until first grade, home school her, send her to a private school, or virtual public charter school. Hank McKinney doesn't want his daughter behind because of a toy gun.

"If she fails for a legitimate reason, yeah, hold her back," he said.  "But not over something like this."

The McKinneys can appeal the ruling to the district board, and they say they plan to do that.

Naomi has been out of school for 30 days and has received no home instruction. Sumter Board of Trustees Chairman Keith Schultz told us the board is planning to review the district's weapon policy. They'll hear an appeal if the McKinneys file one.

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