16-Year Old Expelled for Having a Toy Water Gun on Campus


Laney Nichols

A 16-year old girl was expelled from Prattville High in Alabama for a year for having a water gun on campus, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

A black water gun

The Autauga County Board of Education said Sara Allena “Laney” Nichols is banned from school property and any extra-curricular activities for the same period.

Her mother, Tara Herring, admits she had the water gun on campus, but questions the severity of the punishment.

Superintendent Spence Agee declined to comment for this story, citing BOE policy forbidding comments on any disciplinary actions relating to students.

“She’s 16 and doesn’t know what it means when you hear ‘gun’ on campus,” Herring said. “We admit what she did was wrong. I was hoping this could be a teachable moment for her. We’re not saying she should not have been punished. But she took a 10-day suspension. And then the board expelled her. We feel the expulsion is excessive.”

She said a male classmate handed the toy to her daughter “as a joke.” Herring admits the water pistol was black, and at first glance, it would be easy to think it was a real gun.

 “But the second you picked it up, you know its plastic and a toy,” she said. “So we can understand the initial reaction, not knowing it wasn’t a real gun. But after the principal and school officials knew it was a water gun, things should never have progressed this far.”
The male classmate handed the water gun to Laney in the hall after seventh period on Jan. 27, Herring said. She put it in her backpack and then put it the backseat of her car.
Another student reported Laney for having a gun.

“Laney admitted she had the gun and told them it was a water gun and in her car. She and the other boy were silly and made a mistake. But the punishment she received was completely out of line for what happened.”

The family hired an attorney and are pointing the finger at the boy who gave her the gun as part of a scheme. The family wants the word “expulsion” removed from her records and listed as a voluntary removal, which is how it happened. The expulsion came after the mother withdrew her from the school.

The male student who gave her the gun brought another water gun to school months later and was only given an in-school suspension along with a friend who was involved.

Laney has been homeschooled since the expulsion. She and her younger sister are seeking acceptance at Autauga Academy.

The family loved Prattville but have lost all confidence in the schools.

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