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Charge Dropped Against MacArthur Student Arrested for Incident Involving a Toy Gun

Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Sengel says the incident can be "best handled" within Alexandria's school system.

The 10-year-old Douglas MacArthur Elementary school student who was arrested Feb. 5 for an incident involving a toy gun on a school bus will not face criminal charges, according to reports from The Alexandria Times and The Washington Post.

See Patch's previous story: MacArthur Student Handed Weapons Charge Following Toy Gun Incident

“We did not feel it was appropriate or productive to proceed with criminal prosecution and believe the matter can be best handled administratively within the school system,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Randy Sengel told The Washington Post.

The student showed the toy gun to students on a bus ride home from school on Feb. 4. The mother of another student learned of the incident and contacted the school. MacArthur officials then viewed video of the bus ride.  

The next morning at school, the student had his backpack searched. The toy gun was discovered and the police were notified. The student was arrested and charged with brandishing a weapon.

The toy gun had an orange tip, according to a Feb. 5 release from the Alexandria Police Department. In that release, the APD said officers arrived at the school before students arrived.

Nakicha Gilbert, the student’s mother, and others criticized the case’s handling in a story last week in The Washington Post. 

See Patch’s previous story: Mother of ACPS Student Arrested for Toy Gun Incident Criticizes Case's Handling  

Alexandria City Public Schools officials said they followed local policies and state laws following notification of the incident.

On Sunday, the Alexandria branch of the NAACP criticized the arrest, calling it “senseless” and “insensitive.” The student is African American.  

See Patch’s previous story: NAACP Criticizes Arrest of MacArthur Student for Toy Gun Incident

“While we are sensitive to and share in the legitimate safety concerns parents and school officials have over the safety and well-being of our children, this incident clearly shows the ‘adults’ involved acted without due regard to basic common sense,” the statement reads. “We expect more from those to whom we entrust our children’s future and educational needs. Subjecting any child, and especially an African American child, to arrest and a possible criminal record over a toy is foolish and insulting to our community.”

Edmund Lewis February 26, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Apparently this incident was not "best handled" by ACPS central office administrators. If they dropped the ball on this, what else is happening or has happened which we don't know about?
CMurphy February 26, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Unmitigated disaster. Failure of school leadership, especially for the Principal and Superintendent Sherman. Shame on both of them.
Amy F February 27, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Actually, the fault lies with whoever updated the school district policy on "weapons" to include toy guns: http://www.acps.k12.va.us/board/manual/jfcd.pdf There is no differentiation between a real weapon and a toy (if you read the manual it actually defines "weapon" as, among other things, toy guns or look-alike guns) and the policy clearly states the consequences for bringing such weapons to school: "The disciplinary sanction for bringing a firearm to school or to a school sponsored activity is expulsion for at least one year... Violation of this policy shall require that proceedings for the discipline of the student involved be initiated immediately by the principal." It's a badly worded rule, but the administration actually showed leniency by "only" suspending the boy. I don't know for certain, but I bet if you look in the minutes for when this change was adopted it was done so out of "an abundance of caution" or something. We need to eliminate bad rules.
Amy F February 27, 2013 at 04:01 PM
There is something that bothers me even more than the ham-handed way the broken school rule was handled, the statement from the NAACP. "...Subjecting any child, and especially an African American child, to arrest and a possible criminal record over a toy is foolish and insulting to our community.” NO! Subjecting ANY child, of ANY skin color, ANY ethnic heritage, ANY religion, or ANY family model, to arrest and a possible criminal record over a toy is foolish and insulting to our community. Calling out a particular group as being more deserving of legal rights is wrong.
patty collins February 27, 2013 at 09:08 PM
My biggest concern in all of this the seemingly lack of common sense applied to the situation as it relates to the age of the student. 10 years old!?!? I'm unclear why the parent wasn't immediately brought into this. The poor judgement on the part of so many (student, administration, parent, and yes, the NAACP's statement "especially a child of color") is a disappointment. How much time would it have required to have an immediate meeting with student, parent, administration, local authorities to at least get the facts on the table and COLLECTIVELY find the best solution? Instead we made a mess and created a media circus, and will likely make a knee jerk decision about future policy.

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