A middle school in South Carolina has come under fire for suspending a special needs students over a drawing of a cartoon bomb he brought to class to show some friends.
Rhett Parham, 13, has autism and loves to draw, according to his mom Amy.
One of his favorite video games, the '90s classic Bomberman 64, served as inspiration for his latest doodle: A cartoon bomb.
Local NBC affiliate WYFF says Rhett took the drawing in to school to show "some older students," and one of those students told officials, leading to Rhett's indefinite suspension.
When officials at Hillcrest Middle School first phoned Parham, she thought they were joking.
"They actually reiterated to me they knew he was non-violent," she told WORD 106.3FM. "They knew he was not actually having a bomb, creating or making a bomb. But that they could not go with out making an example of him and take some type of action because they were worried about their perception. Perception is actually the word he used. Perception is reality, and parents might think you have a bomb or [might be] violent."
In a statement to the press, the school district said it was "important and necessary to thoroughly investigate any threat to student safety, including a student's intent."
The district claims "threatening comments were made," but refused to elaborate.
A spokesman for Greenville County Schools told WYFF that, per the school's zero tolerance policy, any comment perceived as threatening results in a students immediate suspension pending an investigation.
A "manifestation hearing" has been set for today to discuss Rhett's suspension, including whether his "behavior was caused by his disability."
Should the school deem the incident unrelated to Rhett's autism, it is possible he could be expelled.
[screengrab via WYFF]