School Suspends Kid for Twirling Pencil & Subjects him to 5-HOUR Evaluation!


Note sbtyssdrzi
that the superintendent is quoted as saying, “School law MANDATES we investigate whenever anyone in the school feels threatened or uncomfortable with the actions of another student.”

Making someone “uncomfortable” is all it takes to warrant an investigation? So if I say, “I like hamburgers” to a student who’s vegan…should I get ready for a 5-hour evaluation? After all, the other kid may feel uncomfortable about my carnivorous ways. Call the cops! Or the thought police! Or Nurse Ratched!

Superintendent: “We never know what’s percolating in the mind of children, okay? And when they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.”

I feel the same way about superintendents who raise red flags by getting to a position of authority without demonstrating any common sense. – L.

P.S. The dad has set up an email account if you wish to get in touch:

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50 Responses to School Suspends Kid for Twirling Pencil & Subjects him to 5-HOUR Evaluation!

  1. BL April 7, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    That superintendant makes me feel uncomfortable.

    I mandate that he submit to a psychological examination by me. Or, better yet, by Nurse Ratched. I’m sure she’ll find a good place for him.

  2. Gary April 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm #


    10min up the highway from me.


  3. Brooks April 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    In 4th grade, a girl named Beth poked a pencil at me because I was annoying her (I was). She’s now a real rocket scientist at NASA. I wonder what would have happened had she been carted off for that act? How many ridiculous and demoralizing events can happen to a kid before they just give up on adults?

    P.S. I still have a black stain in my right index finger where the graphite stuck…

  4. Nicole 2 April 7, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Percolating in the student’s minds? Really? You know a good way to find out what someone’s thinking is to sit down and TALK to them, right? Get the social worker, have a chat with the kid who is being accused and the accuser, and sort it out.

    Sounds like the school just let some bullies win.

  5. Donna April 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    During law school, I taught myself how to twirl my pen around my thumb. I now do it absent-mindedly whenever I have a pen in my hand. It is a neat trick that people are constantly asking me to show them how to do. I guess that I should stop since pencil twirling is such a red flag for mental illness and threatening behavior. I’m lucky that a deputy hasn’t taken me out in court yet.

  6. SKL April 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I do hope they come up with a zero tolerance punishment for school authorities who do these kinds of stupid, hurtful things to kids.

  7. SKL April 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    At a minimum, I think the school administrator needs to undergo at least 5 hours of psychological testing.

  8. BL April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    @Nicole 2
    “Percolating in the student’s minds? Really? You know a good way to find out what someone’s thinking is to sit down and TALK to them, right?”

    They seem to have confused children with coffee-makers. Talking to coffee-makers is fairly useless, of course.

  9. Gary April 7, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    “At a minimum, I think the school administrator needs to undergo at least 5 hours of psychological testing.”

    At a minimum he…and others like him…needs to be beaten with a pillowcase full of soda cans.

    Between this and the Common Core nightmares I have been seeing I am better off homeschooling my kids or turning them loose in the woods and letting them figure stuff out for themselves.

    We aren’t circling the drain, we are already about a mile upstream from the sewage plant.

  10. Warren April 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    This ahole of a super needs to be removed immediately. End of story.

  11. gap.runner April 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    Oh my goodness, what is wrong with people in the States? Stories like this make me glad I live in Europe and put my son into the local school system instead of the US on-base one.

    I was also a pen/pencil twirler when I was in school and still do it today. It’s a good thing I never got suspended from school and given a psychological examination. My son is the same way and always has to be playing with something.

    If my son was in a US school, I’m sure that his teachers would have advised me to give him Ritalin. He is the class clown and the kid who is always goofing off in class. The response of the teachers here is, “Boys will be boys, but tell him to dial back the silliness.” Over here they realize that 9th grade boys are not exactly models of maturity.

    That school administrator obviously needs to take some courses in child/teen development.

  12. Suzanne April 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    It sounds like the Superintendent is scared of children. To me that should disqualify him from his current position.

  13. Beth April 7, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    The 5 hour evaluation involved being checked into the hospital and DRAWING BLOOD? For twirling a pencil?

  14. pentamom April 7, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    My husband when in middle school (so the story goes) was being picked on by a kid who kept poking him with a pencil in the nether regions.

    So one time, he just turned around and suddenly upended the desk behind him, kid and all (it was the kind with the chair attached to the desk) to the kid’s total surprise. Since hubby was a skinny, nerdy, medium-height kid, he had the element of surprise, to put it mildly. There was no injury, just some humiliation.

    His parents got a call, they talked to the teacher, it was determined that hubby was not the instigator, was informed that this was not behavior to be encouraged but there would be no punishment as he was provoked, and that was that. Probably solved a “bullying” problem for the teacher into the bargain.

    We’ve made so much progress. /sarc

  15. pentamom April 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    Oh, I forgot to mention that in the ensuing 35 years, hubby has never laid a hand in anger on another person, except once, when some brainless teenager came running down the street and literally knocked down our then four-year-old. He gave the kid a hard enough shove to knock him on his behind and yelled at him until he backed off.

  16. Emily April 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    My six year old son is FINALLY being evaluated this week for autism. I’m had to fight tooth and nail to get it done. Who knew all I had to do was teach him to twirl a pencil until he made someone uncomfortable.

    I had a friend who is a social worker who’d worked in a children’s psych ward give me the list of “red flag” signs I could teach him to exhibit (trust me, we were joking; it’s how I deal with stress). Pencil twirling was not on the list.

    Man, all of the time I’ve wasted going through the proper channels. All of the tears my speshul snoeflayke has cried because he wants so badly to fit in.

    Well, off to teach him how to percolate with his mind…I’ll report back with the results.

  17. Maggie April 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    What in the world? I would not have allowed them to do the evaluation. There is no way! I wonder what made that kid feel threatened when he saw a pencil moving. How does he write? He must be terrified all the time! I’m so glad we homeschool!

  18. Maggie April 7, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    This why schools have nothing to do with “real life”.

    Imagine this: At work, you fiddle with your pencil. Your co-worker reports you to your boss, who suspends you without pay and makes you get a psych eval.

    During an election year, your neighbor puts a bumper sticker supporting a certain party. You are of a different party, and report him to your HOA. They ban him from the neighborhood, pending a psych eval.

    The church down the street has an Easter egg hunt. You find Easter egg hunts offensive. You report them to the police. The entire congregation is required to have psych eval before they can resume weekly services.

  19. tdr April 7, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    Now that the story appears in print, I hope the school administrators see themselves as they appear to the rest of us. How could they not be slapping themselves on the forehead wondering what got into themselves?

  20. jwgmom April 7, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

    What he really needs to do next is to report feeling threatened by the kid who was bullying him. Lets see if the administration has one standard for all.

  21. Nicole 2 April 7, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    He was likely sent to the ER for assessment for a psychiatric admission. I guess, at least they didn’t press charges?

  22. Papilio April 7, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    @Lenore: “So if I say, “I like hamburgers” to a student who’s vegan…should I get ready for a 5-hour evaluation?”

    I’m sure they’ll find you’re a HUGE threat to the mental health of superintendants (especially this one) and to American society in general 😀

    @Gary: “At a minimum he…and others like him…needs to be beaten with a pillowcase full of soda cans.”

    No – with BEER cans that look just like soda cans! Remember?

    When *I* was in 7th grade, we used ballpoints as miniature machine guns to ‘shoot’ each other: click-click-click-click-click!! We also drew WANTED posters of our teachers with a higher reward for ‘dead’ than for ‘alive’. Surprisingly, I’m not writing this from jail 😛

  23. Papilio April 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    Who paid for all that psych eval nonsense anyway?

  24. Wendy W April 7, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    The audio says “physical and psychological examination”. WHAT ON EARTH in this case warranted a “physical examination”? And what exactly does that mean? Frisking for other weapons? Or body cavity search for contraband? Good Grief!

  25. lollipoplover April 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    I wonder what they would have done with me. I used to launch pencils into the foam tiles in the ceiling along with my classmates. Usually at a water stain or booger-like target. Sitting for hours is boooring.

    Twirling pencils?!
    My son has a kid in his class who finally got a detention for lighting up his e-cigarette. Again. He’s in 7th grade.

  26. Jim Collins April 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    20 years in the future. This same child, now an adult, goes to a sporting goods store, to buy a rifle for hunting. The clerk takes his driver’s license and runs it through the computer. The clerk hands him back his license and tells him that he can’t buy a rifle, because, he’s listed as having mental problems from an incident that happened in 2014.

  27. anonymous mom April 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    I think a big part of what this shows is how smart kids are, and how quick they catch on. Even in middle school, students know the magic words to get another student into serious trouble. Apparently, now, if you want another student thrown out of class for a few days, all you need to do is accuse them of making gun motions with their pencil.

  28. Rick April 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    If this were a mad house we’d be fighting over which channel to watch before we got our meds. Instead our kids are fighting over which pencil he should twirl before he gets interviewed (for 5 hours). On a different level, the school system is just a reflection on larger society. There’s so much more going on than twirling pencils in the adult world. I think we need to think more broadly if we wish to change anything. Just my opinion.

  29. Steve April 7, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Superintendent, Charles Maranzano, a public school administrator to remember.

  30. anonymous this time April 7, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

    Reminds me of how a lot of angry women can end up with full custody of their kids when they go to court… they say the magic word: “molestation.”

    So this middle-schooler figures out how to get some very intense action: he says “gun,” and his classmate gets carted away to hospital. For holding a pencil.

    You never know what’s in the minds of kids. Well, in this case, I do. The kid who yelled out “gun” was wanting a sense of power and influence. And boy howdy did he get it.

  31. bmj2k April 7, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    Question to Superintendent: How does this raise a red flag?

    Question to Superintendent: Doesn’t the other kid yelling out “send him to juvie” raise a red flag that the yeller is a troublemaker?

    Question to Superintendent: If the yeller was behind the twirler, how could he see what was going on with the pencil? He had to be peeking over the kid’s shoulder, looking to make trouble.

  32. Jodie April 7, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    Lol, NJPencil, I love it! The school super intendent should be suspended and evaluated for wasting time with this idiocy!

  33. JP April 7, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    uh, yeah.
    How about zero tolerance punishments for school personnel posing as rationale adults (and turn out to be as goofy as Grover) who was actually, after all, only a simple puppet.
    Parents should gang up and “mandate” a spot of re-training at Sing Sing? Devil’s Island? Too harsh?
    5 minutes of that would create serious group re-think about what a bully is really all about.
    Marvelous perspective. A real rocket scientist, huh? Wow.
    You should feel darned proud of that graphite spot!

  34. Neil M April 7, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Not to defend the superintendent, but given the climate of fear in which we all operate, his actions are completely understandable. Americans have convinced themselves that every school is five seconds from a massacre and every student a hairsbreadth from a breakdown, and so we have created incentives for Maranzano to behave exactly as he has. After all, unnecessarily hitting the panic button only ticks off this kid and his father, but NOT hitting it opens up the school to accusations of being lax or unmindful of security risks. In that situation, the CYA move is to shut down the school, call the police, break out the leg-irons, or whatever other overreaction comes to mind, and that’s what Maranzano did.

    I don’t know we get out of this trap without chewing off a limb, I really don’t.

  35. anonymous this time April 7, 2014 at 11:55 pm #

    I would think the ACLU would be interested in this.

  36. Really Bad Mum April 8, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    Ok I think I got the jist of it.
    * bullying makes you feel safe and comfortable
    *pencils ( with added deadly pen cap) are the most terrifying sight when being twirled.
    * big obnoxious words make you look like you got your s*** together and rock at your job.
    * punishing the victim of bullying so you can justify your job.
    * the teacher is the biggest idiot and someone needs to have a yarn with him/her about common sense.
    * 99% sure the blood taken was to do D&A testing as we all know pencil twirling can lead to harder stuff like crack and baton twirling.
    * lastly, some people are just idiots and have a uncanny knack to make others act like dickheads as well.

  37. BL April 8, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    @Really Bad Mum
    “some people are just idiots”

    These people are not idiots. They’re evil.

  38. TaraK April 8, 2014 at 9:04 am #

    And THIS is why people are against new “anti-bullying” legislation. They believe that people will use common sense in reacting to perceived threats. They are obviously wrong.

  39. Really Bad Mum April 8, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    @BL.. Naaa they aren’t evil, they aren’t smart enough to be evil, they are cowards, picking on the victim is the easy way out and they can pretend to be all tough and powerful..
    I bet he drives a really big car to compensate for something else maybe haha.

  40. Angela April 8, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    Wendy W – New stories today detail the ‘physical evaluation’ as a strip-search and blood/urine testing for drugs. And the father acquiesced to it all ‘under protest.’

    My protest would have been announcing right then-and-there that my child was no longer their responsibility – before the physical evaluation.

  41. SKL April 8, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    How about this take on what schools can do to students who raise concerns. A naturally slim 20yo woman says Yale has threatened to kick her out unless she gains weight. The ONLY reason for their concern, apparently, is her BMI (i.e., it’s not like she’s fainting in class, puking, etc.).

    I wonder if they threaten to kick out fat students (and faculty).

  42. Really Bad Mum April 8, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    @SKL, her BMI is 16.8 mine is 18.0 and 162.5 cm. If I’m not hungry and try to eat it makes me vomit, if I’m full and I try to ” clear my plate” I will vomit, if I’m hungry I eat, if not i don’t, forcing people to eat ( especially kids) teaches them to ignore the full feeling and leads to weight problems. Skinny people have problems with clothes and insults (you must be on drugs, or anorexic) and it is all socially acceptable to say things or make jokes coz we’re “lucky”. That school is so so so wrong.

  43. Papilio April 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    @SKL: Hah. I remember my BMI at 18 was still 16,4. I didn’t do anything whatsoever to get it that low, it just was!

  44. Havva April 8, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    @SKL/Really Bad Mum,
    I think many doctors and childcare workers have a poor understanding of people who are ‘too skinny’ for non starvation reasons. My daughter has been ‘too skinny’ for most of her life. My husband was ‘too thin’ until he hit puberty.

    One daycare worker was so convinced my daughter just had to be hungry that she force fed my daughter into puking (repeatedly). When removed from her ‘care’ my daughter’s milk consumption dropped from 4.5oz in a sitting to 2!

    But the doctors wouldn’t take my husband’s medical history with forced eating into account. They dismissed it so completely that the doctors had me worried sick. Despite being ahead on every developmental milestone, the doctors labeled her ‘failure to thrive.’ They were constantly running tests, and telling me to feed her more (taking the puking into account only so far as to recommend increased calorie density). One doctor actually ordered me to replace the milk in her morning cereal with half and half and add it to her milk. When the doctor called to check on how the high calorie diet was going she gagged when I mentioned the half and half. She had forgotten she told me to do that! After I put my foot down on experimental testing, the doctors finally concluded it was hopeless and told me I could stop the high-calorie diet. I ditched the half and half, set limits on meal time, and fed her ordinary food. Mysteriously(?), after that change little-one slowly eeked her way into the 5th percentile for height-to-weight ratio. Ironically the doctor behind most of this worry is rail thin herself. Now that doctor labels my daughter as ‘small but healthy.’

  45. Really Bad Mum April 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm #

    @ Havva, I hear ya!!! Luckily my mother is a nurse my aunty a midwife so no one tried that on me, I was checked as a child to exclude any problems and once they saw I was healthy but skinny that was that, till I became an adult and started getting people insult me or make judgemental comments.

  46. Jenny Islander April 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    When I was in school, pencil twirling was about the only fidgeting students were allowed to do! It wasn’t noisy, it didn’t mark anything up or bug other students*, and you could do it with your eyes on the board. ISTR a teacher pausing to compliment a fidgety kid on answering a question while still keeping the pencil going.

    So kids aren’t allowed to fidget? I think the administration at this school was marinated in stupid.

    Also, who has to pay for the blood draw? Not the family, I hope.

    *”Robert, I don’t care whether seeing Natasha twirl a pencil bugs you because you are supposed to be looking up here, not at her. Eyes up front!”

  47. Michelle April 8, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    My brother had ADHD, and really struggled in school. In Jr High, he had a great counselor who really helped him succeed, but in high school he was treated like a troublemaker. The school told my mom that they wanted to put him in a special class to help meet his needs — this turned out to be, essentially, in-school suspension! No breaks, no leaving your seat, no fidgeting or tapping or rocking in your chair. GREAT for a kid with hyperactivity. 🙁 (He recently graduated from college with a degree in engineering, so nyah to them!)

    Apparently now ALL the kids are being chained motionless into their seats.

  48. Tasha Batsford April 9, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    Man alive!

    I understand the rule about making someone feel uncomfortable, but as with all things it should be about INTENT.

    In a similar way to sex harassment laws in the UK are written to protect people from implied as well as explicit harassment, I’m sure this law was written to allow action to be taken in cases where it “wasn’t what they said it was the way they said it”.

    Unfortunately in order for laws like that to work, it means the people enacting them need a modicum of common sense.

    Clearly that was lacking in this case. That is of course an understatement of epic proportions.

  49. Beth April 9, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I *don’t* understand the rule about “making someone uncomfortable”. At minimum it needs to be better defined. All kinds of drama and wasted time can ensue because someone decides they’re uncomfortable (and before you all attack, I’m not talking about sustained bullying over a period of time).

    I hate whistling. I hate it with a passion. And it makes me uncomfortable when someone is whistling around me because it just raises my hackles and lowers my tolerance for anything else. Can I request the whistler to stop? Sure, but if they choose not to I don’t get to make demands, bring the office to a screaming halt, and require that the whistler get a psychological evaluation (maybe I need one!!). Everyone is made uncomfortable by different things and that should not be a criteria for punishment.