A distraught mother spoke up after her son was disqualified for taking a “toy gun” to McDonald’s before class. Pauline Pollard said her son Mitchell, 12, was expelled from Christ Church in Yardley Wood, a brand-new school that opened in September.
Mitchell took a black and yellow toy gun to McDonald’s and gave it to a friend who Pauline later said “shoot a few balls of balls at two schoolchildren.”
While the school insisted that any decision to exclude a pupil was not taken lightly, Pauline, 53, noted that its punishment methods were “exaggerated”.
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A self-employed cleaner claimed her son had been the victim of “unfair treatment” and likened the Church of England Academy to an “army camp”.
Mark Bowman Dalton, Principal of Christchurch School, said: “Any exclusions are not taken lightly and will follow legal guidelines set by the Department of Education. Each case is dealt with fairly and will be reviewed by a panel of governors.
“Christchurch Academy, Church of England Secondary Academy sets clear boundaries that encourage excellent behavior and ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the learning environment.”
Pauline insisted that although she was permanently excluded, her son was not a “stray” child. She said Mitchell is now considered a “danger” even though he has not threatened or harmed anyone.
“We found early on that the school was very harsh,” she said. “While we appreciate that they will try to set the standard and precedent for an entirely new school, they are a little bit ahead of the curve.”
During a hearing – in which the school board supported the exclusion – Pauline claimed that she provided “impeccable references” on her son’s behalf. She alleged that this included a worker at the local McDonald’s where Mitchell gave the gun to his friend.
Pauline claimed that the gun had been handed over to the police, who found no reason to investigate. But she claims there was a “misunderstanding” a week ago that left a “flaw” in Mitchell’s record.
During a class discussion about the three things the pupils would take to a desert island, Pauline said her 12-year-old joked about packing scissors to “stab himself in the neck” because he didn’t want to be alone. She claimed that a teacher had not heard this remark and thought Mitchell was threatening them.
Now, Pauline said she is in the process of appealing the decision. She insisted that it wasn’t the BB gun Mitchell was found with — because it didn’t fire balls but “little plastic dots.” She added that it is black and gold in color, indicating that it does not pose a danger.
“It’s not a BB gun and that’s where my argument lies,” she added. “The BB gun obviously shoots high speed spherical balls [and] This releases tiny plastic dots. It is gold and black so it can be identified that it is not a firearm.”
She continued, “It’s ultimately for the fact that he’s totally unfair to Mitchell. Is he going to go through a naughty boy school or what? At the moment, I don’t know. He’s uneducated. Anyway.”
“It’s a school, not an army camp.”
According to one police force, BB guns firing plastic or aluminum balls “may or may not be firearms, so they may or may not be prohibited.” West Yorkshire Police said this is because the pellets are released in different ways.
The force said, “The soft-air type of BB pistol that is ‘toy like’, although it may be too powerful to be officially classified as a toy, does not fit the Section 1 definition of a firearm because it is usually low energy It is very likely designed to release plastic [or] Aluminum pellets.
“If you are not sure if your BB gun is legal or not, you should check with the Firearms Department of the Police Force who will be able to advise you. Due to the nature of BB guns and their capabilities, it is not recommended to allow young children to be in their possession.
“Also be aware that many BB guns are very realistic and that the police treat all reports that include weapons as if they were real firearms. Please note that all police calls involving firearms are treated as if they were a real firearm, so be Be aware that if you wave a simulated firearm around, you may find yourself surrounded by firearms officers pointing real weapons at you.”
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