Second-grader's suspension for throwing an imaginary grenade raises ire locally, nationally
Last Friday, Alex Evans, a second grader at Loveland's Mary Blair Elementary, was suspended for playing an imaginary game that included throwing a pretend grenade. Such stories are manna from heaven for those who think political correctness runs amok at schools. But while a local critic of Mary Blair policy gets why so many beyond Colorado are upset, she's baffled by threats that have resulted in the school pulling down its website.
Pics, video below.
"I don't understand why people are doing that," says Nancy Rumfelt of Liberty Watch, an organization made up of "Citizens Uniting to Defend Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Happiness" according to its website. "Why you would take a story about a little boy playing a game and a school district overreacting and do something like that doesn't make any sense to me."
The incident was first reported by (correction) Fox31, with followup by the Loveland Reporter-Herald. According to the paper, Alex Evans was engaged in superhero role playing when he acted as if he was hurling a grenade at a box with something evil inside during recess.
Problem is, doing so violated a list of "absolutes" posted on the Mary Blair website. Among them are restrictions against physical abuse, fighting and use of weapons, whether they're real or not. Hence, principal Valerie Lara-Black reportedly phoned Mandie Watkins, Alex's mom, on Friday to let her know her son had been suspended for breaking these rules.
A spokesman for the Thompson School District declined to answer specific questions from the Reporter-Herald about Alex's suspension, but implied that there was more to the story than Watkins was sharing. For her part, Watkins said Alex had gotten in trouble on one occasion for accessing other students' reading accounts on a computer, but she had no knowledge of instances when he had been chastised for violent or aggressive behavior.
Whatever the case, the story soon went viral, with TV stations as far away as Alabama covering it; a clip of one such report is on view below. But mentions by the likes of Rush Limbaugh led to unintended consequences, as the Reporter-Herald notes in a followup report. The school was inundated with angry phone calls, and its website was pulled down as the result of an e-mail sent to principal Lara-Black by a man from Atlanta that included a photo of a gun and the passage, "There are multiple records of your crime. I recommend that you resign immediately."
Last night, the district's board of education had a previously scheduled meeting, and Rumfelt attended, assuming that the Alex Evans matter and its fallout would be a prime topic of discussion and debate. But she says that wasn't the case.
"They had already planned to talk about their discipline statistics, and that was really all they focused on," she recalls. "They made some remarks about the media blowing this out of proportion and how it wasn't fair, but they really didn't address the story."
In her opinion, this approach represents a big mistake.
Continue for more about Alex Evans' suspension, including a video.