• 'Pop-Tart Bill' to address student suspensions over fake gun gestures


    OCALA, Fla. - Whether it be finger pointing or using pencils as props, students can get in trouble for almost anything if it resembles a gun, so one Ocala lawmaker is proposing a bill to bring back some common sense guidelines and stop school officials from overreacting.

    Bonnie Bennett's 8-year-old son, Jordan, was suspended from an Osceola County school last year after he made a gun gesture with his finger. 

    Now, state lawmaker Dennis Baxley wants to make sure other kids don't face similar consequences.  His bill would keep children who use "pretend" weapons at school from being punished.

    "It is part of an overall plan to try to redirect these incidents in a way that they are dealt with appropriately, keep students in school working and try not to overreact to marginal issues," said Baxley.

    Baxley has proposed the "pop tart" bill, named after an incident that involved a Maryland boy who was suspended for chewing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun.

    In addition to Pop-Tarts and imaginary guns, the Florida bill would also protect children who hold their pencils as if they were firearms and draw pictures of guns, actions some lawmakers say aren't enough to warrant a suspension from school.

    "As parents, we want to make sure that they have the authority to address the needs of their student and try to keep them in school," said Baxley. "We don't want to see them expelled or suspended over minor issues such as this."

    While the bill has already won unanimous support on the house K-12 subcommittee last week, Channel 9 wanted to know what Baxley had to say to those that feel it may be a step in the wrong direction.

    "I think that we are taking kid behavior and kid play and escalating it into something that it's not, which is an act of violence," he said.

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    'Pop-Tart Bill' to address student suspensions over fake gun gestures