TREDYFFRIN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Police were called about a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome after officials at her elementary school said she pointed at her teacher, her fingers simulating a gun, and told the educator, “I shoot you.”
Margot Gaines was accused of making a potential threat, which under school district policy, required administrators to call the police for a threat assessment, despite the school principal determining Margot didn’t mean harm, The Washington Post reported. Officials said it was district protocol.
It happened in November at Valley Forge Elementary School in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, but the incident was brought to light when Maggie Gaines spoke with the school board. She questioned the policy that criminalized an “age-appropriate, nonviolent behavior of elementary students,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
You can read her statement to the board, here.
A police officer investigated what happened and spoke to Margot’s parents on a conference call. In addition to giving law enforcement officers information about their daughter, they also had to provide their own names and ages, the Inquirer reported.
“They feel like they need to contact the police to find out if a student might have something else in the community they might not know about. All right. But my daughter is 6 and in kindergarten. Are you trying to tell me she’s out running around the rough streets of Tredyffrin doing something?” Maggie Gaines said when she spoke with the Inquirer.
Police did take an official report, KYW reported. But no charges were filed.
The family has hired a lawyer to get the report removed from police files and have asked the district to change the policy, the Inquirer reported.
The district released a statement that said, “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,” KYW reported.
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