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How Far Should A School’s Authority Reach?

Airsoft guns
Flickr user:
I saw a story out of Virginia about a couple of middle schoolers who got lengthy suspensions for firing an airsoft gun in one of the boy’s yard. If you’re unfamiliar airsoft guns, they are air propelled guns that shoot plastic pellets; my older son had several and it was never a big deal, except for all the pellets in the yard.

According to WAVY.com, these kids in Virginia were shooting at each other in a yard while waiting for the bus. The two seventh graders maintain that their activity took place on private property and not at the bus stop, some 70 yards away. A neighbor saw the boys shooting each other and called 911; the police showed up and didn’t arrest anyone or issue any citations (probably because nobody was doing anything illegal).

When the Virginia Beach City Public Schools found out about the incident, they suspended three of the boys under their “zero tolerance” rule about firearms. Keep in mind, the boys were not on school property, at school, or even at the bus stop. The school maintains that the boys were close enough to the bus stop and were shooting the airsoft guns at children approaching the bus stop; the boys deny shooting at anyone other than each other and that they never left the yard.

How can this possibly be the school’s business? At no point was the school involved or responsible for what happened. Do you think the school went too far?

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