COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – An Illinois mother is speaking out after administrators suspended her son for bringing a shell casing from a fired bullet to preschool.
Hunter, 4, had been at the preschool for about a year, she said, and the incident brought him tears. From his perspective, he found something he thought was pretty neat and he took it to school Tuesday to show his friends, his mother, Kristy Jackson, said. She said neither she nor Hunter's father knew that he had found the shell.
“This is a spent .22 caliber bullet casing,” Jackson said, holding the object that got Hunter into so much trouble.
“I was met with a stone-faced teacher who said that my son had a shotgun bullet. I was horrified thinking, ‘where could he have gotten this?’” Jackson said, recalling when she picked up Hunter from the preschool in Troy, Illinois, Tuesday.
Hunter’s parents got a letter from the school’s director saying Hunter had been suspended for seven days. The letter says the school had repeatedly reminded his parents about Hunter using other toys as make-believe guns, in violation of school policy.
The school’s vice president told KTVI the suspension was for more than the shell casing, that the school was simply following its discipline policy. He said he couldn’t go into further detail, citing confidentiality concerns.
“He’s cried about it and he doesn’t understand why his school hates him,” Jackson said of her son.
She wrote about the incident on Facebook, and her post has been shared across the country. It turns out the casing came from a visit with Hunter’s grandpa who is a Caseyville police officer, Jackson said.
He’s made it a point to teach Hunter about hunting and responsible gun use at a young age.
“[Hunter] just was wandering around in a field and picked up and put it in his pocket and didn’t tell his parents…it’s paranoia. It’s something that’s become quite an epidemic where guns are automatically assumed that they’re bad…and I’m not sure how a 7-day suspension teaches my son anything about tolerance or anything about why he was wrong. It just means his school doesn’t want him there because of things he enjoys,” Jackson said.
The school's vice president emailed her that he was notifying the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). He confirmed that email to KTVI, saying that he was required to do it because A Place 2 Grow is licensed by DCFS.
Jackson said she was not sure if Hunter will return after the suspension.