Sunday, January 27, 2013

School Punishes Child For Paper Gun

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PHILADELPHIA - A mom believes a South Philadelphia elementary school went too far when she says administrators punished her little girl for pulling out a paper gun in class.

Melody Valentin says she pulled out a paper gun last week and says a school administrator scolded her in front of the entire class.

Her mom, Dianna Kelly, tells FOX 29's Dave Kinchen that school staff even searched her, with other kids watching the whole time.

The paper gun, according to her mom, looks something like a sheet of paper folded over. Her mom says it was made by the girl's grandfather the day before.

Valentin says she went to throw it away, but a boy saw it and called the administrators.

"He yelled at me and said I shouldn't have brought the gun to school and I kept telling him it was a paper gun but he wouldn't listen," Valentin said.

Calls made by FOX 29 to school administrators were not returned. As a result, FOX 29's Dave Kinchen went to the School District of Philadelphia for some answers. The district told FOX 29 that it wasn't able to reach officials at the school to research the matter. FOX 29 will continue to reach out to the school district for comment.

In the meantime, Kelly says she doesn't want her daughter at the school.


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The School District of Philadelphia is responding to claims by a South Philadelphia 5th grader and her mother that her elementary school went too far in reprimanding her for bringing a paper gun to school.

Fernando Gallard, a spokesman for the district, told FOX29 an internal investigation showed Melody Valentin of Newlin Fell Elementary School told classmates she had a handgun on her.

He said the school then acted swiftly and appropriately by questioning the girl and later searching her belongings as some classmates watched.

The school district's response comes several days after FOX29 broke the story which has since made national headlines.

Meanwhile Melody and her mother Dianna Kelly deny she ever used the word "handgun."

Kelly said her daughter realized she had the paper gun on her, put it on her desk and prepared to throw it away when another classmate saw it and contacted school administrators.

She said Melody got the piece of paper folded into a gun from her grandfather, a marine specializing in firearms, the day before and forgot about it.

Kelly told FOX29 Melody has been distraught by constant teasing of students after an administrator yelled at her and had her searched during the incident.

She has since kept her daughter out of class to avoid harassment.

Gallard stressed the district acted within its guidelines in responding to the situation, and pointed to another case where a handgun was recently found in a backpack at another school.

Kelly maintained her view Friday that the school district went too far and said she will now have Melody home schooled.


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