As we reported yesterday, an autistic child named Rhett was suspended “indefinitely” for drawing a picture of a cartoon bomb.
Now the suspension has been lifted.
Amy Parham, Rhett’s mother, said the South Carolina middle school determined that the picture was directly linked to the Rhett’s autism. It took a two hour hearing, involving several school officials and an autism expert, to conclude that Rhett was not a danger to his fellow peers.
Amy said, “They did not suspend Rhett and they did not recommend expulsion. They realized that his disability was the reason that he made statements and drew the picture, and that he had no malicious intent what so ever.”
Rhett drew the picture over the weekend while at home and then took it to Hillcrest Middle School. He was removed from the school “indefinitely” after some older children saw the picture and told teachers.
Amy said the boy’s favorite video game called Bomber Man may have inspired the drawing.
She was initially disturbed when her son was removed from school. On Monday Amy said, “They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent. They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go with out making an example of him and take some type of action because they were worried about their perception. Perception is actually the word he used. Perception is reality, and parents might think you have a bomb or [might be] violent.”
Amy said she was thankful to receive overwhelming support from across the country after Rhett was suspended.
The school stands by its decision to suspend Rhett until a hearing was held to determine if his behavior was due to his disability.
Oby Lyles, a spokesman for Greenville County Schools, responded directly to Amy in a public statement released on Wednesday.
He said, “It is troubling that incomplete and inaccurate information has been shared by the mother about the incident involving her child at Hillcrest Middle School. School districts are prohibited by law from releasing specific student discipline information without parental permission. The district prefers full disclosure of the incident, but the mother has refused our request to allow details about the incident to be released. The school administration responded appropriately when threatening comments were made, investigated it fully, and acted in accord with applicable laws, policies and procedures to bring this incident to its proper closure.”
Do you think the school acted appropriately? Tell us in the comments section below.