School Calls Cops on 6-Year-Old with Down Syndrome After Pointing Finger-Gun at Teacher
CBS3

The girl's mother said her daughter now has a police report on record.

A Pennsylvania elementary school called the police on a six-year-old girl with Down syndrome after she pretended to shoot her teacher with her fingers.

The girl's mother, Maggie Gaines, has accused Tredyffrin-Easttown School District of mishandling the incident last November, saying her daughter, Margot, unknowingly made a gesture which caused a disciplinary investigation, according to CBS3 .

Gaines said her daughter now has a police report on record.

"My daughter got frustrated and pointed her finger at her teacher and said, 'I shoot you,'" Gaines told the outlet this week.

"At that point, they went to the principal's office and it was quickly assessed that she didn't even really know what she was saying."

It was concluded there was no harm done, and the threat was considered transient, as the statement was made in frustration. The school district, however, said it was policy for them to report it to the authorities.

"I was fine with everything up until calling the police," Gaines said. "And I said, 'You absolutely do not have to call the police. You know, this is ridiculous.'"

Gaines maintained her daughter didn't comprehend what she had done, much less the questioning by the school officials.

"They were asking her questions, and she was saying, 'Oh, I shoot mommy,' laughs, or, 'I shoot my brother.' The principal asked, 'Did you mean to hurt your teacher?' And she said no and it seemed like she didn't even know what that meant," Gaines explained.

"She really didn't understand what she was saying, and having Down syndrome is one aspect," she continued, "but I'm sure all 6-year-olds don't really know what that means."

"The whole thing is overkill for an instance like this," she said. "Children don’t have the same understanding as adults, these are children not adults, with not the same life experience."

"Now, there is a record at the police department that says she made a threat to her teacher."

The family is appealing the school board to change the policy.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Andrew Dinniman said he also believes the situation was mishandled as well.

"As a state senator, an educator, and a parent, I am concerned when I hear that such important decisions appear to be guided blindly by written policy or legal interpretation without those in positions of authority using their judgment, experience, and common sense to weigh in," he said. "Furthermore, I am alarmed that a school seems to be acting as an extension of the police department in promulgating data and records on children as young as kindergarteners."

The Tredyffrin-Easttown School District said it would review the policy at a committee meeting.

"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."

Tredyffrin Police Department Officer Joseph Glatts told the Daily Local News that such a report filed is not uncommon.

"Officers are called to take a report regardless of age. It's just for reporting purposes," he said. "Juvenile records are not obtainable to anybody. Nobody can get it."

The school district added, "Consultation is not the same as making a police report and asking for an investigation. It allows the district to receive an opinion from law enforcement regarding the level of threat, but equally important allows agencies to confer and use the information they have to plan for appropriate supports. Consultation does not create a criminal or juvenile record for the child."

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