A panel of Millard School Board members has reduced the punishment for three boys expelled for playing with toy guns outside an elementary school.
The Kiewit Middle School students, who were originally expelled for a year, will be allowed back to school Nov. 7, according to attorney Bill Gallup, who was hired by the parents of one boy.
The boys were playing with Airsoft BB guns Oct. 1 outside Grace Abbott Elementary School after school hours. A neighbor called police. School administrators expelled the boys under Millard's no-tolerance policy for possession of guns, including Airsoft guns, on school property.
The panel of board members Mike Kennedy, Linda Poole and Paul Meyer reduced the punishment.
Gallup said the committee's decision was reasonable, but the district should review its policy.
“Zero tolerance is nuts,” Gallup said.
“Everybody's different,” he said. “You have to look into the different situations before you do those kind of things.”
Kennedy said Tuesday he couldn't comment on the specifics of the case. He said the committee looked at “the totality” of the situation.
“There are three good kids who unfortunately violated the policy,” he said.
Kennedy said he would like to see the school board change its policy to give administrators more flexibility in such cases.
The district requires a mandatory one-year expulsion for any student “using, intimidating with, threatening with, possessing on one's person, handling or transmitting any paint ball gun, Airsoft gun, BB gun, or pellet gun” on school grounds.
Kennedy added, however, that the district will continue to take seriously any situation that involves guns or look-alikes.
Barb Eastlack, whose son Brandon was among those expelled, said she was pleased by the decision.
Brandon smiled and pumped his fist when she told him he could return to classes at Kiewit, she said.
Eastlack said she was glad the panel listened to the boys' story.
“I'm just very thankful for them to get to see the boys, each individually and learn about them, and see that it wasn't an act of violence,” Eastlack said. “It was just a stupid mistake that shouldn't ruin their whole eighth-grade year.”
She said she would like the board to revisit its policy.
Meantime, she said she will be helping Brandon to catch up on school work he missed while attending the district's alternative school.
The situation changed Brandon's life and taught him some lessons, she said.
Among those lessons, she said, is that school shootings have changed the world.
“They have to realize that sadly this is the world that we live in,” she said. “We cannot be as free of spirit. We have to be a little bit more careful, and a little more apprehensive of what others think and what may scare others.”