WINNSBORO — A pink-tipped toy gun was cause for alarm at the Fairfield County Magnet School for Math and Science after the toy was discovered Jan. 31 in a 4-year-old’s book bag during an after-school program.
According to the sheriff’s office incident report, 911 dispatch sent deputies to the school. The assistant principal notified authorities of the incident.
The toy did not meet the specifications of a replica weapon under the Fairfield County School District Code of Conduct, which defines a replica weapon as “a device which appears to be an operable firearm and is presented as being a real gun, but lacks the ability to expel a projectile. Replica guns do not include obvious toy weapons.”
Since the toy was determined to not be a weapon or to have been used in a malicious manner, the school was informed the incident should be handled within the school district per school policy.
School Superintendent JR Green said the age of the child was taken into consideration as was the child’s capacity to understand the threatening nature of having a toy gun at school. The code of conduct gives some leeway in this area, according to Green, so that commonsense can be used when determining the appropriate response.
“Depending upon intent and circumstances, we may respond differently to a sixth-grader bringing a toy gun to school than to a 4-year-old child,” Green said. “Some people recommend expulsion in any circumstances (with a toy gun at school), but under those circumstances, given the age of the child and the nature of what was found, it was not handled in that serious of a fashion.”
The incident was noted as a Level 1 infraction under the code of conduct, as a disturbance, rather than the more serious Level 3 classification that deals with actual weapons being brought to campus and/or replicas that look like real weapons being brought to school.
Green said the parents and the principal were notified when the toy was discovered.
“If a toy gun looks real enough, then someone may respond to it in a manner that would be harmful to all students,” Green said. “This incident provides parents an opportunity to reinforce with their children for them to not bring any toy gun replicas to school.”