Upstate mom: Special needs son suspended for drawing bomb

Published: Oct. 15, 2013 at 11:35 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2013 at 11:36 PM EDT
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(Photo: WYFF)
(Photo: WYFF)

GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WYFF) - An Upstate mom says she will meet with school and district officials Wednesday after her special needs son was suspended for drawing a picture of a cartoon bomb from a video game.

Amy Parham said her son, Rhett, is autistic and goes to Hillcrest Middle School.

Parham said Rhett drew a picture of a cartoon bomb from a video game he watches on YouTube called Bomberman 64. She said Rhett drew the picture at home and then took it to school and showed it to some older students.

She said one of those students told school officials about the drawing and Rhett was suspended.

Parham said when she got the call from the school about the incident she thought they were joking at first.

"I'm angry. I'm upset and I'm incredulous, honestly, that a child could come in and bring a drawing and that's somehow perceived as a threat -- especially someone with special needs who really doesn't filter information the same way that typical children do," Parham said.

Greenville County Schools spokesman said that any time a threatening comment is made the initial step is to suspend the student until the investigation is complete.

Parham said she is meeting with school and district officials on Wednesday.

"Even though zero tolerance is very important, it's very important to protect our children in our schools, but at the same time there has to be some way that we come back to the middle of the road this is just too far over into the ditch on the opposite side of where we need to be," Parham said.

The school district released a statement Tuesday saying, "It is important and necessary to thoroughly investigate any threat to student safety, including a student's intent. This is one of the most difficult judgments a school official must make. This investigation began when threatening comments were made, resulting in the responsible removal of the student from the school to ensure everyone's safety while the incident and intent were assessed.

"The school's administration responded appropriately to the severity of this incident, investigated it fully, and acted in accord with applicable laws, policies and procedures. The school administration has met and will continue to meet with the parents to resolve the matter.

"While parents may openly discuss a disciplinary action involving their child, we do not have that same right. As a result, complete information regarding a specific incident cannot be released to the general public."

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