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Jan 15, 2013 No Comments ›› Dinah Tellya

TALBOT COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Some parents on the Eastern Shore say school officials there went too far in disciplining a couple of six-year-old boys. Derek Valcourt explains the boys got into trouble for bringing an imaginary weapon to school.

What started as a recess game of cops and robbers at a Talbot County school turned into a controversy after two six-year-old boys were suspended for using their fingers to make an imaginary gun.

Many say a suspension is going too far.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Julia Merchant.

And it’s not the first time. Earlier this month, six-year-old Rodney Lynch was suspended from his Montgomery County school after pretending to fire an imaginary gun more than once.

“Just pointing your fingers like this and then she did the pow sound and I just went like that and then I got sent to the office again,” Lynch said.

School officials reversed their decision after Rodney’s parents appealed.

“They’re saying he threatened a student, threatened to shoot a student. He was playing,” said his father, Rodney Lynch, Sr.

If a punishment for a hand gesture sounds too severe to you, you’re not alone.

“I do not believe maliciousness was involved here,” said child psychologist Dr. Joe Kaine.

Kaine says most six-year-olds’ minds aren’t developed enough to understand why their idea of fun play might make adults upset.

“I can certainly appreciate that at school, that’s not a type of play that they’re going to endorse and I certainly support that but that’s where they educate time and place for doing things,” Kaine said.

Many parents agree the kids were just being kids.

“They just don’t know any better. Suspending them is a bit harsh. I don’t think that’s going to do any good for the parent, the child or the school,” said Janet Goetzky.

Talbot County school officials declined to explain the punishment or comment for this story, citing confidentiality requirements.

Over the last few decades, the number of school suspensions has been on the rise. Maryland state school officials are working on a plan to reduce those numbers.