Texas

12-year-old with autism arrested for using 'imaginary rifle' in art class, family says

David Sims, 12, was arrested by Conroe ISD police on Monday after making a hand gesture during art class. His family says he was playing with an imaginary rifle.
David Sims, 12, was arrested by Conroe ISD police on Monday after making a hand gesture during art class. His family says he was playing with an imaginary rifle. Video screenshot

David Sims' family says it was a harmless gesture as he and some other boys in class were talking about BB guns.

But in the post-Stoneman Douglas world, school officials are on higher alert than ever.

According to KRIV, Sims, who is autistic, was playing with an "imaginary rifle" in art class Monday. Minutes later, he was being taken out of school in handcuffs by Conroe (Texas) ISD police.

His art teacher at Bozeman Intermediate School apparently felt threatened by his hand gestures.

"They just said, 'We don't tolerate that. We take it as a threat,'" David's mother Amy Sims told the station. "A threat? He didn't threaten anyone. He didn't do anything but play."

She also told KPRC that he was using two hands to show other students how he holds his BB gun before he was "dragged out" through the school's front entrance and "humiliated" in front of others who looked on. She said school district officials told her they would seek harassment charges against her son.

Conroe ISD spokeswoman Sarah Blakelock told McClatchy that the district would not comment on Sims' specific disciplinary case, but said in a statement that "any actions or statements that are threatening in nature are taken seriously."

Her statement continues: "Situations involving students with special needs are responded to with consideration for each unique need. Conroe ISD administrators along with the Conroe ISD Police Department do everything possible to make Conroe ISD a safe place for all of our employees and students."

KRIV reported that David Sims would finish the school year at an alternative placement disciplinary school in the district.

He was held for about two hours at the Montgomery County Juvenile Detention Center, according to the Montgomery County Courier, before being released to family members.

David's disciplinary history at school muddies the water even further.

The Courier reported that in a previous incident, he listed classmates' names and a manner of death for each on a piece of paper. He was admitted to a hospital for an evaluation following that incident but was not deemed a threat to those around him.

A school lockdown is a precautionary measure issued in response to a direct or nearby threat. It requires staff and students to respond quickly and comply with rules. Here’s how it often works.

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