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Marysville Middle School student suspended for pretending to shoot other students

MARYSVILLE — An eighth-grade student at Marysville Middle School has been suspended for the rest of the school year for an incident on May 31, in which he was accused of pretending that his hands were guns that he was shooting at other students, while he was walking through the school's hallways.

Rondi Lance, the mother of 14-year-old Hunter Lance, told KOMO News that she agreed with the need for discipline in response to her son's actions, but she nonetheless considers the two-week suspension that's been meted out to be rather severe, especially since he now faces the possibility of being forced to attend summer school. She expressed regrets that school officials didn't explain to him the reasons why his behavior merited such punishment, even though she ultimately agreed with their response.

Marysville School District Assistant Superintendent Gail Miller reported that the suspended student had a history of issues at school, while Jodi Runyon, executive assistant to the superintendent, expanded upon Miller's remarks by characterizing the school officials' response to this incident as symptomatic of how school districts across the nation, including Marysville, are taking seriously all incidents and threats of violence, whether real or perceived.

"Simulating violent video games in a school setting that frightens other students is inappropriate," said Runyon, who added that the suspended student's actions, which included counting his "kills," were considered threatening in nature and scared other students.

Runyon explained that, before deciding on what the consequences of a student's misbehaviors are, Marysville school officials weigh the seriousness of the current incident, determine whether the student has a behavior plan or special needs, review the student's past disciplinary records, consult with the student's teachers and parents, and conduct a thorough investigation with all the students involved in the incident, including interviewing witnesses.

"The safety of all students is one of our paramount duties as an educational institution," Runyon said. "We have policy and procedures in place, use progressive discipline and consider many factors, including the care and concern of the perpetrators and their victims. We hope that the student will take this time to reflect on his actions and how they made others feel. We welcome him back to school in the fall, where he will begin his ninth-grade year and have a fresh start."

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