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Boy, 11, expelled for playing with toy gun after school - abc27 WHTM

Boy, 11, expelled for playing with toy gun after school

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A 5th grader at Chambers Hill Elementary School has been expelled for two semesters after police found him with a toy gun on school property.

Tony Simms, 11, his 13-year-old sister and a 13-year-old friend went to a wooded area behind the school playground at around 6 p.m. on March 11, according to his mother Andrea Thorn.

Tony told abc27 they shot a few pellets from the $5 air guns -- which lists "ages 8 and up" on the box -- before putting it down on a bench.

"Because we were in the woods and we weren't even trying to hurt anybody," he said.

But minutes later, Thorn said a custodian inside the school spotted the kids and called 911. Police arrived with their guns drawn and ordered the kids to the ground, Tony said.

Thorn said the officers told her Tony would be charged as a juvenile, and would receive a citation. Though that hasn't happened yet, Tony has already been expelled from Central Dauphin School District for having a weapon on school property.

"They just thought they were outside," Thorn said. "Yes, the park sits behind the school, but like I said to (the principal), 'Are the woods marked Central Dauphin School District property?' 'Well it should be assumed (she said).' Really? I wouldn't assume it and I'm 41 years old."

Thorn said at their last meeting with school officials, the principal had already boxed up Tony's belongings.

"I won't get to see my friends, I'll miss the field trip and I'm going to miss 5th grade graduation," Tony said.

Thorn said her son has never been in trouble before and maintains excellent grades.

"To me, it just seems so excessive -- the punishment does not fit the crime," Thorn said.

In a statement, Central Dauphin School District spokesperson Shannon Leib said:

The Central Dauphin School District (CDSD) does not have a zero tolerance policy for weapons on school property.  Each incident is reviewed on a case by case basis in accordance with the Pennsylvania School Code.  We will not comment specifically on this case, but provide you with district policy as outlined in the CDSD Student Code of Conduct. 

In cases where students are found to be in possession of weapons or look alike weapons on school property, they may be expelled for a period of up to one year as outlined in the CDSD Student Code of Conduct.  During that period of expulsion, the district is required to provide an education in an alternate setting and that is done in every case. 

The weapons on school property policy is clearly defined in the CDSD Student Code of Conduct and parents are required to review this with their students at the beginning of each school year.  Parents sign a form confirming they have done this.

In the beginning of each school year, students are reminded about the rules pertaining to weapons or look alike weapons on school property. 

Thorn said her son will be allowed to return to the district October 29. In the meantime, she has the option to have him attend cyber school either at home or at East Middle School.

A call to Swatara Township Police Chief Jason Umberger went unreturned Wednesday.

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