Hoke County Schools in North Carolina suspended a 5-year-old girl because she was caught playing with a stick that looked like a gun.
Caitlin Miller said that she was playing "king and queen" with her friends, and was imagining that she was a guard. She picked up the stick and pretended to shoot an "intruder" into their imaginary kingdom, when school officials swept in and swiftly imposed the penalty for her crime.
"Hoke County Schools will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student," officials said. "Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning."
Little Caitlin returned to class the day after serving her suspension, but her mother is not happy about how school officials dealt with the situation, saying Caitlyn wasn't told what she had done wrong at the time. "She's confused. Nobody explained anything to her," Caitlyn's mom said.
Miller says Caitlin was alienated by her friends and teachers as a result of the suspension. She hopes that the school will issue some sort of apology to her daughter.
Hoke County School Superintendent Freddie Williamson is aware of the incident.
Officials said she violated school rules when she "threatened" other students with the stick while making a shooting motion, and said that they had a "zero tolerance" policy for that kind of behavior. Caitlin's mother said they should have explained to the girl what she did wrong instead of summarily yanking her out of school.
"One minute she's playing with her friends, and the next the teachers are dragging her to the principal's office," Caitlin's mother protested.
No information was available on the imaginary intruder that Caitlin was prevented from shooting.