ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJLA) – The Anne Arundel County elementary school student who made national headlines after he chewed his breakfast bar into the shape of a gun is back in the news, because his family wants his suspension record erased.
The superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools reaffirmed that 9-year-old Josh Welch’s suspension had nothing to do with Pop-Tarts or guns, saying the boy is a troublemaker who frightened his classmates. Still, Welch’s family and lawyer are appealing to a higher authority.
A year and a half ago, Josh nibbled a breakfast bar into the shape of a gun, stood up in his second-grade class at Park Elementary School and said, “Bang! Bang!” Josh told ABC 7 News in April that to him, it was no big deal.
“I don’t think I remember, ‘cause that was, like, a year ago,” he said.
Josh remembers being suspended for two days, and that he has become a symbol for gun rights advocates, as well as his own activist lawyer.
Attorney Robin Ficker has already been denied by the superintendent in one attempt to have the suspension overturned, based on his argument that the situation is “political correctness run amok.”
On Wednesday, Ficker appealed to the Anne Arundel County Board of Education to say Josh is a normally active child made a victim by hypersensitivity to guns. He wants the suspension cleared from the boy’s school record.
“They must learn to teach these 7-year-olds without throwing them out of the school system, without branding them,” Ficker said.
During a Wednesday afternoon hearing closed to cameras but open to reporters, a school system lawyer told the Board of Education that Ficker is wrong and is the one branding Josh. She said Josh had previously punched and threatened students, and had a record of 20 prior incidents. AACPS spokesman Bob Mosier says the Pop-Tart incident was the last straw and stands by the suspension.
“It’s very unfortunate that Mr. Ficker has turned it into a single-incident spectacle,” he said.
Ficker says he won’t give up.
“Now, they’re trying to cover their rear ends by saying this kid was a discipline problem,” he said.
Both sides agree that the most important thing is Josh’s well-being and future success. The boy is now at a new AACPS school, where he is doing well.