The mere act of imitating someone with a gun, whether intentional or not, apparently will cause alarm in a good many schools today.

Look though any new site and you’ll see stories of kids who make gun motions or draw pictures of guns eliciting a variety of reactions from school officials.

One child from Maryland was eating a pop tart into the shape of a gun, getting the child in trouble.
A 6 year old brings a small Lego gun and is forced to write an apology letter.

Then there are the ubiquitous “finger-pointing of the gun stories” – way too numerous to mention here.

In the most recent case, a Vernon 7th grader was twirling a pencil that had a cap on the eraser end – prompting another child with whom the 7th grader previously had trouble to call to the teacher that the 7th grader should be “sent to juvie” for brandishing a gun.

We were first alerted to this story from the father of the child in a letter on our Facebook page:


I would like you to know about my 13 year old son who has NEVER been in trouble before at school has just been expelled from Vernon NJ township schools for making a "gun like motion " in math class.

In reality he was twirling a pencil near his ear. Another student who sits behind him (who my son had an earlier disagreement with at lunch time) yelled out "he is making gun motions, send him to juvie". At this point the teacher sent my son to the principals office.

I was called and went to the school where I was told my son was being evaluated and would need to see a therapist before he could return to school.

So in essence he has been expelled. I recorded the 1.5 hour conversation where it became apparent that the school does not believe any gun like motion actually took place but that they were covering their positions by "following procedure".

I feel my sons right to an education is now being denied because of the malicious actions of another student.

As the late Paul Harvey would say, "here's the rest of the story!!

Ethan Chaplin was twirling his pencil in class when another student yelled "He's making motions, send him to juvie." And it went all down hill from there. According to Chaplin,


Ethan was immediately taken to the principal’s office, suspended, and told he would not be able to return to school until he passed a psychological evaluation.

“I was shocked because I’m like, how am I not going to come back to school? I didn’t even do anything,” Ethan told News 12.

Vernon Schools Superintendent Charles Maranzano stood by the decision to suspend Ethan, suggesting that the gesture could have led to something worse:


“We never know what’s percolating in the minds of children,” Maranzano said. “And when they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.”


Ethan’s father Michael dpoke about what transpired after that during Ethan's evaluation:

“The child was stripped, had to give blood samples (which caused him to pass out) and urine samples for of all things drug testing,” Michael said. “Then four hours later a social worker spoke to him for five minutes and cleared him. Then an actual doctor came in and said the state was 100 percent incorrect in their procedure and this would not get him back in school.”


I understand that administrators have jobs to do – and that part of their job is to investigate perceived threats.

But when common sense is thrown out the window and a child is not only put through a battery of tests that are unwarranted (in my humble opinion); but suspended for a number of days – the only result of any of this could possibly be a lawsuit for which the taxpayers of the district will ultimately bear.

Did administrators overreact?