Lawsuit Claims Hawaii DOE Wrongly Suspended Student Over Toy Gel Gun

AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

Schools have a habit of being notoriously stupid over gun-shaped things. Have a picture of a gun on a t-shirt? Suspended. Eat a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun? Suspended. Finger guns? Suspended.


I get there being a zero-tolerance policy for students who bring actual guns on campus, but the zero-tolerance rules have been taken to a ridiculous extreme.

With toy guns on campus, though, is it really that bad?

Depending on the toy gun in question, it might be. A realistic replica firearm such as an airsoft gun could be used to threaten students and teachers, for example, and so I can kind of see an issue with those.

But the toys that don't look anything like a real firearm? Then it would depend on how the school treats other toys.

In Hawaii, though, a mother alleges her child was suspended over a gel-firing toy gun that was given to him on campus as a Christmas present.

The mother of a Stevenson Middle School student is suing the Department of Education, claiming school officials wrongly suspended her son and caused him emotional distress by not rectifying the mistake.

The lawsuit filed Monday stems from a Nerf toy called a gel-fire blaster, which shoots 7-8 millimeter water-based gel polymer balls that burst when they hit a target, similar to a paintball gun.

The DOE considers them “firearms” and bans them from campuses.

Heather McVay says her son’s eighth grade classmate gave him and other friends gel guns as wrapped holiday gifts last December.

She says although her son did not open or use the toy gun on campus, school officials suspended him and 8 other students for one year for having the toys on campus.

In a letter to parents in January, Stevenson’s principal said one of the students discharged a loaded gel gun on campus after school, striking another student.

McVay says her son was not involved and appealed to overturn his suspension.


I don't see an issue with suspending the kid who fired the gun because shooting people with stuff like that is wrong.

Yet if the Hawaii Department of Education is treating these toys as if they're actual firearms, someone there is clearly making use of a medical marijuana card while on the job. They must be because they're clearly high.

They're not. They shoot a non-lethal gel that while maybe not fun to be shot with isn't really going to injure people short of a freak accident. While I can understand them being prohibited on campus because of the opportunity for distraction or their being used to bully other students, this is a little different. Assuming, that is, that the story we're being given is accurate, but based on what I've seen from school over the years, it probably is.

McVay argues, however, that the school screwed up in numerous ways, including the lack of due process. Apparently, the law dictates that schools provide something that at least looks like due process, which they never did.

Then, she alleges they dropped the ball in other ways.

Despite state law requiring alternative forms of instruction for suspended students, McVay says her requests for academic support were rejected and led to retaliation.

“To say that my child had a firearm at school, that record has to be corrected. And I will not stand for him to carry that on in the future,” she said.

“Give him some help, reinstate him in some honorable manner. And they refused to do it, it’s not our problem they said,” Seitz said. “The so called educators admitted that there were mistakes made, but they’re not going to step forward to rectify those mistakes.”


So the school allegedly screwed this kid over despite the law saying they were supposed to keep him on track.

Honestly, nothing about this surprises me, particularly in Hawaii.

See, with the anti-gun sentiment that's rampant in pretty much all segments of the state, as well as among educators, there is going to be no grace given over what is clearly a toy. Again, these guns don't look realistic unless you live in a comic book. But the issue is that it's still something that sort of looks like a gun, and guns are to be stigmatized. People are supposed to get the impression that having anything remotely like a gun is wrong, so they lower the punishment on kids who break these idiotic, extremist rules, and then continue to screw them over because gun are bad.

And this is a kid who reportedly didn't even open the damn thing on school property. It was a Christmas present and while it doesn't say, it's entirely possible that the kid wasn't even aware of what he'd been given.

None of that matters, though, because now he's being penalized well beyond what his supposed crime would warrant.

And people wonder why I homeschool my daughter.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member