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Suspension over ‘pop its’ prompts parent to question policy

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Nov 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-08 19:50:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Four students at a Salt Lake City elementary school have been suspended for setting off a few noisemakers, which district officials said are really explosive devices.

Last Wednesday, Ben Blume’s 11-year-old son Ethan was suspended from Whittier Elementary School for what district officials called having an explosive device on campus.

“The kid went to put on his coat, one fell out, my son picked one up and threw it down like that, and boom: three days suspension,” Blume said.

The sixth grader had never been in trouble before, and Blume said his son was pretty upset when Blume got to the principal’s office Wednesday to take him home.

“He had tears in his eyes,” Blume said. “He was visibly upset, and that upset me in turn because I felt like the punishment was unwarranted.”

FOX 13 News found the toys at a party store. The brand is called  “Party Snaps” and is marketed as a super loud noisemaker.

Jason Olsen, Salt Lake City School District spokesman, said the scale of the explosion isn’t the issue.

“They are designed to explode,” he said. “They are very tiny, but they do qualify as an explosive device.”

Olsen said when the incident occurred, officials at the elementary school weren’t sure how to handle the issue, so the district discipline office stepped in and suggested suspension.

“They dealt with this situation before and say they may be tiny, but a popper or a ‘pop it’  are considered an explosive device, and it is a violation of our safe schools policy,” Olsen said.

Olsen said there’s a lesson learned on both sides and maybe the district should do a better job of communicating what is and is not allowed on campus, but Blume said the punishment still doesn’t fit the crime and the school policies should change.

“I think policies should be relooked at, where a kid misses three days of education for throwing a single pop it,” Blume said.