© Reuters / Darren Staples
A 5-year-old girl was suspended from a Pennsylvania kindergarten after telling another girl that she was going to shoot her. The weapon she was going to use was a pink toy gun that blows soapy bubbles.
Mount Carmel Area School District officials questioned the student without her parents present, deemed the girl a "terrorist threat" and suspended her for 10 days, according to attorney Robin Ficker, who was hired by the family to fight the suspension.
The incident happened on January 10 as the preschoolers were waiting in line for a schoolbus, Ficker told news website PennLive.com.
The girl, who has not been identified, said something like "I'm going to shoot you and I will shoot myself," referring to the toy. She did not have the bubble gun on her person at the time.
School officials learned of the conversation and questioned the girl for over 30 minutes the next day, Ficker said. After the talk, she was suspended for 10 days, branded a threat and required to be evaluated by a psychologist, he added.
"This little girl is the least terroristic person in Pennsylvania," he said.
The punishment has since been reduced to two-day suspension, the attorney said. He also argued that the girl's permanent record should be expunged, and that she should be offered an apology.
Ficker said he was hired because the girl's mother read that he had handled a similar case in Maryland. In that case, he represented a 6-year-old boy who was suspended by an elementary school for pointing at another student with his fingers folded like a gun and saying "pow."
School authorities called it a "serious incident," and said the boy "threatened to shoot" the other student.
Gun-related violence at schools is a painful issue in the US after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The shooting claimed 26 lives, including 20 children, shocking the nation and triggering a heated debate over tighter gun control.