Police called after 6-year-old with Down syndrome points finger gun at teacher, mother says
CHESTER COUNTY, Pa. - A mom in Chester County is calling for policy change after a school called the police on her 6-year-old daughter with Down syndrome after she pointed a finger gun at a teacher.
One of the many things 6-year-old Margot Gaines loves is her kindergarten class at Valley Forge Elementary.
"She's a fun kid, loves to learn. She's into basketball," her mom, Maggie Gaines, told FOX 29.
Her normally enjoyable school day turned into the opposite last November when Margot pointed a finger gun at her teacher and said, “I shoot you."
"Aside from the fact that she has Down syndrome and she has a disability, she's six. I’m pretty sure that most six year olds don’t understand what it means when they say they will shoot you. They don’t know what it means to die," Maggie explained.
Maggie says it happened after lunch when Margot has trouble transitioning into the next class period. The principal alerted Maggie about the situation and said it was determined it was a transient threat but that threat assessment protocol must be followed.
"I obviously said to them are you trying to tell me that my 6-year-old is running around the streets here causing havoc," Maggie said. "I don’t really see any reason why the police need to be notified if you say there’s nothing to worry about and she didn’t know what she was saying."
The Tredyffrin School District says they do not comment on specific student matters but that they have “agreed to review those practices through the school board committee."
The district also says their threat assessment team consults with police to allow agencies to confer and use the information to plan for appropriate supports and it is not the same as making a police report.
Maggie says there is still an issue.
"In this case, the police department has my daughter's name connected with a threat made to someone at the school that seems to me like a problem. Someone could use that information at a later point in a way that I can't even imagine yet."
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