School Calls Cops On 6-Year-Old Girl with Down Syndrome For Making Finger Gun
The student in question? Margot Gaines, a 6 year-old-girl with Down syndrome who made her hand into the shape of a finger gun. The girl was questioned and police eventually concluded that there was no substantial threat.
The mother of a six-year-old girl with Down syndrome is fuming over the fact her little girl now has a police report on file.
This, after the girl’s mother, Maggie Gaines, tells CBSPhilly that the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District in Chester County overreacted when her daughter pretended to shoot her teacher with her finger.
The classroom incident dates to last November, 6-year-old Margot, a student at Valley Forge Elementary School, made the finger gun shooting gesture that triggered a disciplinary investigation by the school.
The Tredyffrin-Easttown School District called the probe it conducted a “threat assessment” – and told CBSPhilly that its policy mandated local police to be called.
Ultimately, the district’s threat assessment on little Margot concluded nobody was in harm’s way as a result of Margot’s statement and gesture, CBSPhilly reports. The girl’s actions were labeled a “transient threat,” which Gaines explained was an expression of anger.
Now the mother is the one who is angry because her daughter now has a police report on file as a result of the incident.
“I was fine with everything up until calling the police,” Gaines told CBSPhilly. “And I said, ‘You absolutely do not have to call the police. You know, this is ridiculous.’”
The school released their carefully crafted PR fluff message:
“When an individual parent concern related to our school safety practices was brought to the attention of the District two weeks ago, we agreed to review those practices in the School Board Policy Committee meeting tonight. When developing the current practice, the District worked collaboratively with parents, law enforcement and private safety/mental health agencies and legal consultants to ensure our safety measures reflected considerable input from both our local community and experts in the field of school safety.”
Even though police sources confirm it is a confidential record, Gaines fears potential ramifications for her daughter.
“My daughter got frustrated and pointed her finger at her teacher and said, ‘I shoot you,’” Gaines said. “At that point, they went to the principal’s office and it was quickly assessed that she didn’t even really know what she was saying.”
Gaines said it was a severe overreaction by the school district and that they could’ve responded to the issue in a much different way.
“They were asking her questions, and she was saying, ‘Oh, I shoot mommy,’ laughs, or, ‘I shoot my brother.’ The principal asked, ‘Did you mean to hurt your teacher?’ And she said no and it seemed like she didn’t even know what that meant,” Gaines stated.
Sources tell CBS3 Margot has no record, but her name is part of an official report.
Last month, Gaines went public about the incident in a letter to the school board. She says school officials are misinterpreting policy and state law.
“She really didn’t understand what she was saying, and having Down syndrome is one aspect, but I’m sure all 6-year-olds don’t really know what that means,” Gaines said. “Now, there is a record at the police that says she made a threat to her teacher.”
The family is now appealing to the school board to amend this policy and the meeting is tonight.