12-17-2008, 11:31 AM
Quote:NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. -- The latest case of zero-tolerance at the public schools has a 10-year-old student sadder and wiser, and facing expulsion and long-term juvenile detention. And it has his mother worried that his punishment has already been harsher than the offense demands.
"I think I shouldn't have brought a gun to school in the first place," said the student, Alandis Ford, sitting at home Thursday night with his mother, Tosha Ford, at his side.
Alandis' gun was a "cap gun," a toy cowboy six-shooter that his mother bought for him.
"We got it from Wal-Mart for $5.96," Tosha Ford said, "in the toy section right next to the cowboy hats. That's what he wanted because it was just like the ones he was studying for the Civil War" in his fifth-grade class at Fairview Elementary School.
"It kind of reminded me of the [soldiers'] guns that I was studying," Alandis said, "because I had brought pictures home of the gun and stuff, and that gun that I had reminded me of the revolver" depicted in his textbook.
Tosha said that Wednesday afternoon, after school, "six police officers actually rushed into the door" of their home. "He [Alandis] opened the door because they're police. And then they just kind of pushed him out of the way, and asked him, 'Well where's the gun, where's the real gun?' And they called him a liar... they booked him, and they fingerprinted him."
The "police officers" were actually Newton County Sheriff's Deputies.
Lt. Mark Mitchell said Thursday that Alandis had used the toy gun to threaten other children on the school bus and in his neighborhood, which Alandis denies.
Alandis was charged with possessing a weapon on school property and with terroristic acts and threats.
Sherri Viniard, the Director of Public Relations for the Newton County School System, emailed a statement to 11Alive News Thursday that reads, in part:
"Student safety is our primary concern, and although this was a toy gun, it is still a very serious offense and it is a violation of school rules. We will not tolerate weapons of any kind on school property."
Alandis had his first hearing in juvenile court on Thursday. Tosha said the case worker assigned to Alandis will recommend a period of probation, rather than juvenile detention. The judge will make the final decision.
Tosha said Alandis is not allowed back in school for now. She has a meeting scheduled with school administrators. She does not know if he will be expelled, and is hoping for no more than a ten-day suspension.
"A toy gun is a toy gun," Lt. Mitchell said, "to be played with and for kids to have fun with. But when kids use it the wrong way, just like anything, then it can be scary."
And that's the crux of the dispute about the "terroristic threats" charge, whether Alandis purposely did anything to scare anyone, or whether other children over-reacted at the sight of his toy gun.
For the record, Alandis knows what he wants to be when he grows up -- a police officer. And that hasn't changed.
"You know, he's a 10-year-old little boy who wants to be a police officer," Tosha said. He also has "little walky-talkies and stuff, because they like to play police and recon."
Innocence of child's play now lost, she says, no matter what the outcome of the case is.