- The Washington Times - Friday, February 7, 2020

A Pennsylvania school district is under fire after the police were called to investigate a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome who reportedly pretended to shoot her teacher with a finger-gun gesture.

Maggie Gaines, the mother of 6-year-old Margot, is upset that her daughter has a permanent police record because Tredyffrin-Easttown School District overreacted to the outburst, which happened in November, a local CBS News affiliate reported.

Ms. Gaines said her daughter, a student at Valley Forge Elementary School, sometimes makes a finger-gun gesture when she’s frustrated. The school district later determined that the girl didn’t pose a threat but said it still followed policy and contacted the police.

“My daughter got frustrated and pointed her finger at her teacher and said, ‘I shoot you,’” Ms. Gaines told CBS. “At that point, they went to the principal’s office and it was quickly assessed that she didn’t even really know what she was saying.”

“I was fine with everything up until calling the police,” she said. “And I said, ‘You absolutely do not have to call the police. You know, this is ridiculous.’”

Police sources told the news station that Margot’s name is part of an official report, but that it’s a confidential record.

Tredyffrin Police Department Officer Joseph Glatts told the Daily Local News, “Officers are called to take a report regardless of age. It’s just for reporting purposes.

“Juvenile records are not obtainable to anybody,” he said. “We understand the situation and concern, but the records are not obtainable to anyone.”

The incident caught the attention of Pennsylvania state Sen. Andrew Dinniman, who said he’s “concerned” school officials didn’t use their better judgment in this case.

“As a state senator, an educator, and a parent, I am concerned when I hear that such important decisions appear to be guided blindly by written policy or legal interpretation without those in positions of authority using their judgment, experience, and commonsense to weigh in,” he said in a statement. “Furthermore, I am alarmed that a school seems to be acting as an extension of the police department in promulgating data and records on children as young as kindergarteners.”

Ms. Gaines said she is now appealing to the school board to amend its policy, the CBS affiliate reported.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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