Five-year-old Caitlin Miller was suspended from a North Carolina school after playing with a stick that looked like a gun, ABC News reports.
The little girl’s mother, Brandy Miller, said her daughter was suspended for a day from her Hoke County school after playing a game called “King and Queen” with her friends on the playground. During the game, Caitlin pretended to be a guard protecting the “royals.” She picked up a “stick gun” (literally, a stick) and pretended to shoot an intruder entering the kingdom.
Hoke County School system officials said Caitlin’s use of the stick gun and imitation of a shooting motion violated school policy and created a threat to other students.
Miller said in defense of Caitlin: “We know why it’s bad because we watch the news. But then I have to tell my kid, ‘You’re not allowed to play at school like that because, you know, people do bad things to kids your age.’”
When reached for comment, the school system defended the suspension with a statement:
“School board policy 4331 states that Hoke County Schools will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student. Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning.”
Caitlin returned to school on Tuesday from her one-day suspension, but her mother said her friends and teachers ostracized her.
“I just want them to apologize to her and tell her that it’s okay,” she said. “You can be 5 and have an imagination.”