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Mother of ACPS Student Arrested for Toy Gun Incident Criticizes Case's Handling

Nakicha Gilbert tells The Washington Post she has not received a clear explanation of why police took her son into custody.

Nakicha Gilbert, whose 10-year-old son was charged with brandishing a weapon by Alexandria police earlier this month following an incident involving a toy gun on a school bus, criticized the case’s handling in a story Monday in The Washington Post. 

“This is how kids get caught up in the system,” Gilbert told the Post, adding that she still has not received a clear explanation of why police were called and why her son was taken into custody.

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

According to the report, Gilbert’s son took a toy gun purchased at a dollar store out of his backpack on a bus ride from Douglas MacArthur Elementary School on Feb. 4 and placed it in a pocket in his pants. At least two children saw the gun, one of which told her mother about the incident.

That child’s mother, Rebecca Edwards, then alerted school officials about the incident and expressed concerns for her children’s safety.

MacArthur officials viewed video of the bus ride after receiving the call. The next morning at school, Gilbert’s son had his backpack searched. The toy gun was discovered and the police were notified, according to the Post.

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.

“If we were able to investigate right away, the outcome might have been different,” APD spokesman Jody Donaldson told the Post.

The 10-year-old was taken to court, fingerprinted and photographed. He was given a probation officer and has another court date scheduled. Alexandria City Public Schools officials said they were following local policies and state laws following Edwards’ phone call, according to the Post report.

Gilbert’s son was suspended 10 days with a recommendation for expulsion. His suspension was later cut short following a school hearing. He now attends a different school.

Jackie Surratt, chair of the Alexandria chapter of the NAACP’s community coordination committee, told Patch on Monday that, at Gilbert’s request, he participated in a “fact-finding session” with ACPS Superintendent Morton Sherman’s staff about the incident. The student is African American.  

“After all is said and done, it was a terrible mishandling,” Surratt said.

Surratt, who reached out to help ACPS interim education students earlier this school year, said the NAACP chapter plans to release a statement about the handling of the incident soon. 

Edmund Lewis February 23, 2013 at 02:37 AM
And by "lockdown drill" you mean that the school had all teachers close their doors at the same time. If you honestly think closing a bunch of doors in unison is any sort of safety training then heaven help us all. The troubling thing is that many parents trust that the schools are providing proper safety training to staff and have adequate response policies in place. They do not. Again, ask those specific questions and feel free to share the answers, complete with exact dates of training (not drills) and dates of threat assessments provided by APD.
John Q Public February 26, 2013 at 01:20 AM
It is a known fact that when you label a child that label acts as permission for the chld to act that way. If you are labelled the class clown, he will be the class clown, If he is labelled the troiuble maker, he will be the trouble maker. This school and the police system just labelled this child (because of a toy gun). I wonder what path he will take now that the system has him in an expected catagory.
common sense please February 26, 2013 at 02:43 PM
The real troubling thing is that as big as this country is along with the number of people that live here makes it impossible to actually be safe. Zero tolerance and other restrictive policies give us the illusion of safety. As parents of 9, 5, and 2 year old girls, it is our responsibility to give them the tools and knowledge to be aware of their surroundings and other people that are around them. We have hopefully given them enough info to help keep them safe. Zero tolerance does not keep them safe. The reality of it has the adults suspicious of some of the children as possible trouble makers while taking away anycommon sense or discretion they may use in a given situation.
Melanie Herridge February 26, 2013 at 03:26 PM
I have to wonder why noone is questioning the parent allowing her son to take that sort of "toy" to school ? Given the current sensitivity surrounding guns (real or toy)...it would seem to have been a poor choice of toy. The rights and wrongs of how the situation was handled...wouldn't have been an issue if the boy had taken another, less offensive, toy to play with at school. Where are the adults in his life ?
bblackmoor March 09, 2013 at 08:53 PM
He didn't bring a weapon to school. There was no weapon. There was never a weapon. Whoever called the police should be charged with filing a false report. That's the first miscarriage of justice. The second miscarriage of justice is that a 10-year-old is detained and questioned without the presence of a parent. The third is that the judge didn't immediately throw this BS out of court and reprimand every adult responsible for allowing to get to that point. What a weak, stupid society America has become.

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