Coventry Student Suspended for Keychain

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NBC10’s Tony Gugliotta reports tonight that a seventh-grade student in Coventry public schools has been suspended for three days after his friend took a two-inch keychain shaped as gun from his backpack:

A 12-year-old boy was suspended from a Coventry middle school after his parents said he brought a small gun keychain to school.

Joseph Lyssikatos said the keychain was in his backpack at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School on Thursday when it fell out. A classmate picked it up and started showing it to other students.

A teacher confiscated it and before Joseph knew it, he was suspended.

Speaking to talk host Matt Allen, on 630AM/99.7FM WPRO, Joseph’s father, Keith Bonanno, said that school officials have not been anxious to speak with the family.   The school’s behavioral specialist told Mr. Bonanno that Joseph is “lucky that he didn’t get suspended for ten days, or even worse expelled.”

A section of the school’s student handbook titled “Serious Disciplinary Infractions” states that “Possession /carrying/use of/threat of use of a firearm or replica shall result in a recommendation for expulsion for a period of time up to one full calendar year.” According to the handbook, some of the other actions that can result in expulsion are assault, cyberharassment, and arson. Perpetrators of extortion, vandalism, and theft are only subject to suspension.

Joseph’s parents are especially concerned about the effect of his three day absence on his studies.  His father told Allen that he had no absences last year, and that his advanced math class covers “two chapters a week.”  The subject is advanced enough that Bonanno is concerned that “if he falls behind, I’m not going to be able to help him.”

According to data provided by the state Department of Education, only 68% of students in Joseph’s class are “proficient” in math.  Just 26% achieved “proficient with distinction” on the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests conducted last year.

In the interview with channel 10, Joseph told Gugliotta that his suspension will lead to his missing the NECAP testing this year.  Proficiency on NECAP tests has become a controversial requirement for graduation, in Rhode Island, although only the tests given in high school are considered.