- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

An Alabama family is threatening legal action after their daughter was reportedly expelled from high school for having a water gun on campus.

Sara Allena “Laney” Nichols, a former student at Prattville High School, was expelled by the Autauga County Board of Education and banned from campus in February, the Montgomery Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Laney’s mother, Tara Herring, said a male classmate had given the water gun to her 16-year-old daughter in the school hallway on Jan. 27. She said her daughter put the water gun in her backpack and then put it in the back seat of her car. Four days later, another student told school officials that Laney had a gun, Ms. Herring told the Montgomery Advertiser.

Ms. Herring admitted that the water gun was black and could easily be mistaken for a real gun at first glance.

“So we can understand the initial reaction, not knowing it wasn’t a real gun,” the mother said. “But after the principal and school officials knew it was a water gun, things should never have progressed this far.”

“We’re not saying she should not have been punished,” she said. “But she took a 10-day suspension. And then the board expelled her. We feel the expulsion is excessive.”

Superintendent Spence Agee declined comment to the Montgomery Advertiser, citing the school board’s policies on privacy.

The family’s attorney, Julian McPhillips, said Laney’s family isn’t interested in sending her back to Prattville High School. Instead, he has written letters to Mr. Agee and other school officials demanding they retract the expulsion and change it to a “voluntary withdrawal,” thus removing the “‘scarlet letter E’ attached to her forehead,” according to the letter.

“My client and [Laney’s] family, including the grandfather of the child, are all extremely upset,” Mr. McPhillips wrote. “They are also willing to finance, if necessary, litigation for me to have the scarlet letter removed.”

“We just want her record and name cleared,” Ms. Herring told the Montgomery Advertiser.

She said Laney has been homeschooled since the expulsion and is hoping to be accepted to Autauga Academy, a local private school.

“Laney has gone to Prattville schools since the second grade,” Ms. Herring said. “We loved the schools in Prattville. But we have lost all confidence in the school system after this.”

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