Father claims son was removed from NJ school for twirling a pencil

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VERNON, N.J. (PIX11) — A Vernon father says his son was kicked out of middle school after a student claimed he was twirling a pencil like a gun.

Michael Chaplin said his son Ethan, 13, would never mimic using a gun.

“He was kind of twirling his pencil, looking at the teacher,” Chaplin said. “And the child behind him blurts out, in the middle of class, ‘He’s making gun motions, send him to (juvenile detention!)'”

Vernon Township School District leadership said the teen was never removed from school.

Charles Maranzano, the district’s superintendent, told PIX11’S Sonia Moghe he could not talk about specific student cases but explained how the district normally handles similar cases.

Teen claims he was suspended from NJ school for twirling a pencil

Ethan’s father says his son was just twirling the pencil, not pointing it like a gun.

“I don’t think any district in New Jersey or America would ever suspend a student for twirling a pencil,” Maranzano said. “That’s ludicrous.”

Ethan returned to school Monday after missing two days of school.

“I’m hoping that everything just goes back to normal,” Ethan said.

The district would not let Ethan back to school until he was cleared through a psychological evaluation, which the father and son claim involved going to the crisis center of a hospital, being admitted for hours, having blood drawn and meeting with a social worker.

Maranzano said that because of violent school incidents across the country, any perceived threat involving even mimicking a gun must be looked at.

“Since 1999, when Columbine became a huge issue for us, we live now in a different world of public education,” Maranzano said. “We’re supposed to be responsible for the psychological well-being of every student who walks in the door of American public schools. A daunting task.”

Ethan’s father said he will consider pulling him out of the school after its handling of the incident.