CLINTON — A North Carolina middle school student was suspended from school after staff noticed his doodles included stick figures holding a rifle and a sword.
It happened last week at Roseboro Salemburg Middle School in Sampson County, and the suspended student is a seventh-grader, media outlets reported.
For two days, James Ray Herring Jr.’s son was unable to attend school and that bothered him.
Herring said his 13-year-old son was suspended from Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School for drawings made in the building.
He did not see any problems with the picture, which featured sketches of a Ninja Turtle, an ancient warrior with a sword and shield and a man performing magic.
“I don’t see anything violent about the picture at all,” Herring said. “He’s just expressing himself and that’s what normal 13-year-olds do.”
Another sketch is a depiction of himself holding a gun, not pointed at other objects on the paper.
Around the United States, there has been more concerns as of late regarding safety and school shootings. Herring said his son is an avid deer hunter and has never been in any kind of trouble during the school year.
“I can see if he had it where he was blowing up people, had some hate words or something like that, but that picture is totally innocent,” Herring said about his son who enjoys sketching.
When it comes to hunting, Herring said it’s a way of life for many people in Sampson County. He added that law enforcement and soldiers in the military have weapons.
“Every other truck you see has a rifle in the back window, but does that makes them bad people? That’s my point. Guns are not bad. It’s the idiots that have guns and do the damage,” he remarked.
Herring said he’s not trying to be a major pro-gun advocate, but feels it was an unfair decision from the school.
After speaking with school officials, he said the school was going to stick by their decision on the suspension. Herring also stated the decision was made at the discretion of the school.
“They could have at least given him a warning and said don’t draw that picture,’” Herring said. “My son is a very loving son. My son cried for two days because of this. Every day he would say ‘all of my friends are at school and I’m here.’”
When it comes to drawing weapons, Herring expressed how rifles and guns are featured in history books, but his son got suspended for a drawing of one.
“I wanted to let someone know so their kid doesn’t do the same thing,” Herring said.
He also pointed out his daughter’s homework assignment, assigned by a teacher, focused on the book “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen. The story follows a man’s survival in the wilderness. Herring used this as an example of hypocrisy in the school’s decision.
Herring is appealing the suspension and plans to meet with members of the Sampson County Board of Education. The district and RSMS did not provide an official statement regarding the incident, citing it as a confidential student matter.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-592-8137.