Iowa School District Suspends Home-Schooled First Grader

Filed under: In The News

A home-schooled boy was suspended for bringing a live shotgun shell to a Des Moines, Iowa, school program. Credit: Corbis

Hearing about a child being suspended in violation of a school's no-weapons policy isn't exactly surprising in this day and age. But when the child is home-schooled? Now, that's a new one.

An Iowa school district suspended Matthias Beattie, 6, for a week after he brought a live shotgun shell to a class he takes once a week through a Des Moines school program which pairs home-schooled students with public school teachers, USA Today reports.

According to story, which originally appeared in The Des Moines Register, the boy's parents say the discipline action "lacks common sense" and that the school did not make "clear that the policy applies to home-schooled children."
Matthias's mother, Charlene Beattie, tells the newspaper that "Matthias is a little kid from the farm, and he did not have intent to do any harm."

The shell fell out of the young boy's pocket while he "jumped around," his mother says. The shell was discovered while the family was renovating its farmhouse in Carlisle, Iowa, and the boy's father allowed him to keep the ammunition.

Even though the law does not consider Matthias a student in a public school, the school district confirms that home-schooled students "are bound by discipline policies," the newspaper says.

"Even though you spend 95 percent of your week home-schooling, you are enrolled in the public schools," Leslie Dahm, who coordinates the school district's home-schooling, wrote to the first-grader's parents in an e-mail, USA Today reports. Administrators had "considered more severe penalties" before determining the one-week punishment.

Because of printing costs, the district does not pass out the policies, but families are "expected to read the policy online," the newspaper continues.

Leigh McGivern, a school district spokeswoman, tells the paper that school policies were instituted "primarily to protect students."

"Whether it's an empty shell or a loaded shell, it's considered part of a weapon and unsafe," McGivern tells the Register. "We have students who don't know the difference. The policy is, let's be unequivocal about it. Don't bring anything like that to school. And that way they don't have to use judgment as a child."

According to the story, Charlene Beattie believes this is one lesson her son will remember.

"Sometimes there are rules that are made that we are not aware of. We still have to abide by them," she tells the newspaper.

Related: School Banishes Cupcakes, Happiness

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.