10-year-old Boy Suspended for Doing a Gun Hand Sign

March 28, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. suspend /səˈspɛnd/ (v.) – to temporarily stop someone from doing an activity
Example: The teacher suspended the rude student from attending class.

2. goof around /guf əˈraʊnd/ (idiom) – to do playful things carelessly
Example: Students goofed around during lunch time.

3. relay /riˈleɪ/ (v.) – to pass on information
Example: The class president relayed the teacher’s instructions.

4. inappropriate /ˌɪnəˈproʊpriɪt/ (adj.) – not ideal or proper
Example: Sleeping during classes is inappropriate.

5. mandate /ˈmændeɪt/ (v.) – to officially command or order
Example: The school law mandates that every boy must maintain a clean haircut.


Read the text below.
A fifth grade student got suspended from school for three days after making a gun sign with his hand.

Nathan Entingh [NEY-thuhn EN-ting] said he was just goofing around with his friends during Science class. Then, his teacher suddenly took him out of the room and called his father informing him of the incident. According to the teacher, Nathan pointed his finger to a friend’s head and said “boom.” The next day, Nathan’s father Paul met with Devonshire [DEV-uhn-sheer] Alternative Elementary School Principal Patricia Price.

Price relayed the news that the school gave Nathan a three-day suspension for committing a “level 2 look-alike firearm” violation. She added that repeated instance of the said act will result in a longer suspension or even expulsion.

According to Price, students and parents have long been informed that the school will punish inappropriate behavior like playing fake shooting or making paper guns. Paul said he was aware of these rules against gun-related behavior. However, he said that such a suspension was just too much.

Public schools’ strict rules trace back to a 1998 law that mandates officials to impose “zero-tolerance” for violence and inappropriate behaviors. But last January, Senator Charleta Tavares [CHAR-lee-tuh ta-VA-rehs] filed Senate Bill 167 to revise the outdated law. She said that schools are getting away with excessive punishment. For her, only extreme cases deserve expulsion or suspension.

State disciplinary figures show that from 2012 to 2013, 419 students were suspended for firearm imitation while 38 students got expelled. In the district of Nathan’s school, 69 students were suspended for firearm imitation and 12 were expelled. In the harassment and intimidation category, 1527 were suspended but nobody got expelled.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of the punishment against Nathan? Why or why not?
·         How will the suspension affect Nathan and his fellow students?

Discussion B

·         What violation deserves suspension and expulsion from school?
·         Do you approve of punishment as a form of discipline? Why or why not?


March 28, 2014