WATCH LIVE: Tornado Warning until 8:30 p.m. for Cullman County

10-year-old suspended for making fingers into shape of gun

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Image Credit: A boy was suspended from his Ohio school for using his fingers as a gun.

(CNN) – Ten-year-old Nathan Entingh doesn’t understand why he got suspended from school for three days.

According to his father, Paul Entingh, one moment the boy was “goofing off” with his friends in fifth-grade science class, and the next the teacher was taking him out of the classroom, invoking Ohio’s zero-tolerance policy.

The offense? Nathan was “making his fingers look like a gun, having the thumb up and the pointed finger sticking out,” said Entingh, describing the February 26 incident.

“He was pointing it at a friend’s head and he said ‘boom.’ The kid didn’t see it. No other kids saw it. But the teacher saw it,” he said. “It wasn’t threatening. It wasn’t hostile. It was a 10-year-old kid playing.”

The next morning Paul Entingh escorted his son Nathan to the principal’s office, where they met with Devonshire Alternative Elementary School Principal Patricia Price.

“She said if it happened again the suspension would be longer, if not permanent,” said Entingh, who also received a letter explaining the reason for Nathan’s suspension as a “level 2 look alike firearm.”

The letter, which Entingh shared with CNN, read, “Nathan put his fingers up to another student’s head, simulating a gun, and said, ‘BOOM,’ ”

Price’s office referred CNN’s call to Columbus City Schools spokesman Jeff Warner.

Price “has been warning the students for some weeks,” said Warner. “We’ve had a problem at this school. The boys have gone around fake shooting and making paper guns at class. It’s inappropriate. She has sent notes to parents for the past three weeks alerting them of the problem.”

Entingh said he never received a notice, but was aware of school authorities telling students, including Nathan, that any gun-related behavior would have serious consequences.

“I don’t know if it’s to the point it happened so much they needed to punish somebody to set an example. I don’t know, it blows my mind,” said Entingh.

Warner acknowledged there was likely no ill-intention in Nathan’s actions. “I know he (Nathan) felt it was funny and in jest, but the teacher felt it was inappropriate given the warnings that were given.”

Warner said Nathan wasn’t singled out as an example, but that his was the first incident after Price gave “her final notice last week.”

Common sense?

Ohio’s “zero-tolerance” rules in public schools came under attack in January when state Sen. Charleta Tavares introduced bill SB 167 to reverse or reform the original 1998 law introduced as part of SB 55. The 1998 bill mandated schools “adopt a policy of zero tolerance for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate behavior, including excessive truancy.”

SB 55 also called for schools to “establish strategies to address such behavior that range from prevention to intervention,” but Tavares believes schools have opted for punishment strategies instead.

“We have moved away from common sense, ensuring that the punishment fits the infraction,” said Tavares. “We should maintain the highest form of punishment which is expulsion or suspension to those cases that cause the most harm.”

Ohio Department of Education statistics show Nathan isn’t alone.

According to state disciplinary figures for the 2012-2013 school year, a total of 419 statewide students, from various grade levels, were suspended because of an incident in the category of “firearm look-a-likes,” and an additional 38 students were expelled.

In the Columbus City Schools district, where Nathan goes to school, 12 students were expelled because of incidents in the “firearm look-a-likes” category, while 69 students were suspended. Contrast that with categories such as harassment and intimidation, in which zero students were expelled, though 1527 were suspended districtwide.

Tavares has been trying to build consensus for her bill arguing that the current law is outdated because it doesn’t take into consideration other factors, such as behavior and mental health.

“The bigger issue is that we need more behavior health and counseling at school so we can look at the root cause of why this child is acting out and being disruptive,” said Tavares.

Entingh agrees and said he is planning to reach out to Tavares. He has struggled to help Nathan make sense of what happened.

“How much of a threat can it really be for a 10-year-old to hold up his fingers?” said a frustrated Entingh. “I would like for somebody to explain this to me because apparently I don’t get it. This is way over the boundary. A teacher could have talked to him and sat him down, given him detention, but a three days suspension?”

Entingh is the father of five children, including Nathan, and he says none of them have ever gotten in trouble at school. Until now.

When asked what has Nathan learned from this incident, Entingh paused, then scoffed: “He’s learned never to make his fingers like a gun a school again. I don’t know if you consider that a life lesson.”

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


  • James M. Calhoun

    This is so stupid, When are we gonna get teachers with common sense. This is just another Liberal teacher over stepping her bounds. I hope they can get some justice out of this.

    • Tyko Mäkitammi

      Don’t conflate “liberals” with zero-tolerance policies. The only people I’ve ever met in real life who support such policies are fearful conservative parents who wanted to shelter “God’s little angel” from the big bad scary world.

      I see this so often — “I don’t agree with it, so it must be LIBERAL!!”

  • Branko Pezdi

    Thank you, liberal democrat school administrators! You have just created another Republican voter!

  • plowboysghost

    It is because of the progressive/liberal anti-Second Amendment agenda that today people panic at the mere possibility of a gun being present. That’s how innocent people and children across the country are being killed by police who “thought” they saw a gun. This is a direct result of the Left’s attack upon gun Rights.

    • Tyko Mäkitammi

      Wow, plowboy, that’s some silly, twisted logic. No, the fact that police in this country have happy trigger fingers is a direct result of the Right’s insistence on every man, woman and child being armed at all times in all places.

  • KB

    OMG!! REALLY??? This is sooooooo stupid!!! Are they going to charge this little boy with a hate crime or terrorist threat too?

  • Jada

    This is sooo stupid. The teacher jumped the gun, literally. What happened to people using even a little iota of common sense. He is a child not a danger.

  • Shonda

    These comments are all appropriate until the child returns to the school to shoot up the school. I think you have to look at both sides of the situation. Maybe they should have sent him to the counselor’s office to determine if there are any mental or underlying issues. If it is determined it is an inappropriate joke by a 10 year old or any student, then in-house suspension for first offense, 3 day suspension for 2nd offense and expulsion for 3rd offense – maybe even requiring professional doctor’s release to return. We don’t need any more school violence due to failure to address possible issues.

    • Jo

      This boy wasn’t showing violent tendencies. He was being a child at play. All the kids in our community played “cowboys and Indians” when I was a child and so far none of us have ever shot up anything or anybody. Teachers should use the common sense that ours did. If a kid is disruptive set him in the hall or paddle his little butt. It’s fun to get suspended and not have to go to school. Cartoons and ice cream day.

  • Shonda

    The only difference is now you can’t tell if the kids are serious or playing anymore. There are so many different issues be it mental, bullying, peer pressure, etc. that it is a scary thought not to take anything serious.

    • Branko Pezdi

      No, the scary thing is the politically correct lack of common sense depicted in your two posts.

      • Tyko Mäkitammi

        Care to elaborate? Can you make an argument without resorting to childish thought-terminating clichés? My guess: No.

      • Branko Pezdi

        WHy elaborte? Oviously you don’t get it. Common sense by definition is anathema to liberals such as yourself, as your other post again demonstrates. Go away.

    • Jo

      Treating it like a mental issue when it isn’t can make it become one. We are what we think we are. This little boy was just told that he is a danger to others. Will he believe it?

  • kathy

    This is one of the stupidest things I have heard of in a while. Kids have been shooting each other with their fingers and sticks and play guns since forever. We used to shoot each other with bb guns. But we surely never would have hurt each other or thought about killing someone. This is about common sense. Millions of people die each year with obesity problems so should we outlaw spoons. If we paid more attention to the real problems children are faced with at home, physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug addicted parents etc., and actually do something about it instead of turning a blind eye we wouldn’t have all these kids going postal. Wake up people put God back in this country and in our children’s lives.

  • kirin

    My son was suspended 3 days for being caught saying the word fag to his friend in high school. Now this is high school, and people say alot worse. Schools these day are just too much….

  • cole

    Liberal’s at their best . Its a wonder they didn’t call in the swat team and shoot the poor kid . As long as we tolerate the B.S. , it will continue to get worse .

  • Bandet

    For those who did not read the article, it was stated that the students were told repeatedly to stop this behavior. Letters were sent home warning the parents that this needed to stop or there will be consequences. So when the “poor kid” does what he has been repeatedly told not to do he gets suspended. It was not simply because he made a gun with his fingers it was because he would not follow the teacher’s instructions. It is called defiance.

Comments are closed.