Parents Claim First-Grader Suspended Over Imaginary Bow and Arrow

Cincinnati-area parents Matthew and Martha Miele claim their six-year-old boy was suspended from school for pretending to shoot a classmate with an imaginary bow and arrow during recess.

Published Nov 5, 2015

[green-label]NEWS:[/green-label] Cincinnati parents Matthew and Martha Miele have claimed that their six-year-old son was suspended for three days from Our Lady of Lourdes School in Westwood, Ohio, because he pretended to aim and shoot an imaginary bow and arrow at a classmate during recess.

Matthew Miele told Cincinnati television station WCPO that he didn't "see anything wrong" with the behavior, but the school maintained a "zero tolerance policy toward threatening gestures":

Parents are mad that a Catholic school suspended their 6-year-old son for pretending to shoot an imaginary bow and arrow at recess.

"I don't see anything wrong with the way he was playing," said the father, Matthew Miele.

Miele said his son served the second day of his three-day punishment at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Westwood.  He wants the school to drop the issue.

"The punishment is so severe that it’s hard, as a parent, to make this a teachable moment for our kid so that we can move forward. I think we have to lose this. It sounds a little editorial, possibly like they're using our platform to teach that lesson," Miele said.

Miele said his son was playing outside when a teacher saw what he was doing and brought it to the principal's attention. That's when Matthew's son was called to the principal's office.

Martha Miele told another Cincinnati television station, WLWT, that she called Principal Joe Crachiolo to ask if the suspension could be reconsidered:

"I didn't really understand. I had him on the phone for a good amount of time so he could really explain to me what he was trying to tell me. My question to him was 'Is this really necessary? Does this really need to be a three-day suspension under the circumstances that he was playing and he's 6 years old?'"

"He told me that he was going to stand firm and that he was not going to change it," Martha Miele said.

WLWT reported that Crachiolo e-mailed the Mieles about the disciplinary action, later referencing a letter sent to parents (but not specifying whether the letter was sent to all parents of students at Our Lady of Lourdes):

The school's principal Joe Crachiolo was alerted to the incident after a teacher spotted him pretending to be a Power Ranger as he was playing outside with friends.

The parents say they encourage their son to use his imagination as much as possible, and are frustrated that their pleas for their son's suspension to be reconsidered fell on deaf ears.

Crachiolo sent a letter home to parents stating in part:

"I have no tolerance for any real, pretend, or imitated violence. The punishment is an out of school suspension."

The content of the e-mail sent to the Mieles by Crachiolo wasn't detailed in any news reports of the incident, nor was it confirmed the "threatening gesture" in question involved nothing more than pretending to shoot a bow and arrow. Principal Crachiolo stated that the school prohibited all violent actions and referenced "games" and "shooting" but wasn't specifically quoted as denoting that the student's imitating the use of a bow and arrow was the sole action that prompted disciplinary consequences:

"Recently, there have been some 'games' being played during recess time. These various games have involved students pretending to 'shoot' other students," he wrote.

"These games are not appropriate in a Catholic school or any other school setting. It is not 'fun' and certainly not Catholic to pretend to harm another person."

Although the Mieles provided their version of events to several news outlets (and it was widely picked up by several more), the school hasn't confirmed the reason for the boy's suspension to the media. When asked about it by WLWT, the archdiocese simply stated they "cannot comment on disciplinary issues involving a minor."


Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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