After a couple of days into the school year, fourth grader Ramsey McDonald of Warner Robins was given what he thought was a fun assignment.
Bring in some of your favorite toys to talk about.
"They were trying to get the kids to know each other," his father, Scott McDonald said.
The Miller Elementary School student told his father Friday night he was going to bring in his iPad and a couple of toys.
His father didn't think much about it and said "OK."
McDonald learned it wasn't OK when he received a call from the school Tuesday.
"They told me my son brought a weapon to school and they asked me if I was aware," McDonald said Wednesday. "I asked them what it was and they said it was a plastic Nerf gun."
McDonald said had he known his child was planning to take the blue, orange and green plastic toy to class, he would've told the child not to take it.
The child was initially given three days suspension, which was reduced to three days in-school suspension, McDonald said.
"He told me he didn't know they would think it was a weapon or he wouldn't have brought it to school," McDonald said.
On Friday, Houston School Supt. Mark Scott said Ramsey McDonald's suspension was always in-school; he said the boy was never supposed to be suspended out of school.
He declined to discuss the specifics of his case, but said the suspension was not based on school officials viewing the Nerf gun as a dangerous item: "We never viewed that as a weapon."
Had the boy brought an actual weapon to school, Scott said, he probably would have been diverted to an alternative school.
The three-day in-school suspension is typically the lightest form of suspension, considered a "minor-level intervention," he said.
Without discussing McDonald's case, he said such suspensions are typically handed out for matters like disobedience or disrespect toward a teacher, having items not allowed in school, like a cell phone, or disrupting school.
On Friday, Scott McDonald said he had contacted the superintendent's office to ask for a face-to-face meeting.
He said he was never notified in writing what his son was suspended for, but that a school official told him verbally it was for bringing "something that looked like a weapon."