YAKIMA, Wash.- Manuel Alvarez eats breakfast and gets ready for school. He's eager but nervous. He was expelled Monday from Barge Lincoln Elementary for making a gun with his hands. His mom says it's a hand gesture that could have easily been corrected.
"He didn't know did they talk to him about it what actions were taken to tell him this isn't allowed," Lorena Hurtado, Manuel's mother.
Manuel has a clean record never in trouble before his mother says a warning would have worked or even a parent-teacher meeting. Instead, His mom says, Manuel's afraid.
"I got a call from the School saying he's not raising his hand or speaking up. He's scared after we talked about not doing any gestures, he probably doesn't want to to do it because that could be a gesture. It might get him pulled out for two days," said Hurtado.
Manuel's mom doesn't see anything wrong with her son putting his hands like this and shooting down at the ground. She doesn't think it poses an immediate threat to the school or Manuel's classmates. We took the issue to School District employees and asked them about their policy.
"When students are at school they should be concerned about learning….safety shouldn't be a concern at school, we have a zero tolerance policy," said Dr. John Irion, from the Yakima School District.
Hurtado understands the policy, but in this case doesn't think the punishment fits the crime, especially when the student in question is in kindergarten.
"A five-year-old shouldn't be held to the same policy as a 12th grader...he is in kindergarten," said Hurtado.
Lorena Hurtado is appealing the expulsion and wants to try to clear her son's record. She says she doesn't want her five-year-old to be labeled as a troublemaker.