Vernon teen Ethan Chaplin suspended from school for pencil gesture

A North Jersey teen says he was suspended for twirling a pencil in a Vernon class, but the school says it was more than that.

Seventh-grader Ethan Chaplin has been home from school

Seventh-grader Ethan Chaplin has been home from school for two days after getting in trouble in math class. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

VERNON - A North Jersey teen says he was suspended for twirling a pencil in a Vernon class, but the school says it was more than that.

Seventh-grader Ethan Chaplin has been home from school for two days after getting in trouble in math class. He says he was just twisting around a pencil with a pen cap on it when a student behind him yelled, "He's making gun motions, send him to juvie."

Ethan says the other student had bullied him earlier in the day, and was now trying to retaliate. But the school told Ethan he was suspended, pending the outcome of a psychological evaluation.

"I'm absolutely livid," says his father, Michael Chaplin. "I think it's gross misconduct at its finest. They took something so minimal and took it so far over the edge."

Vernon Schools Superintendent Charles Maranzano says school policy and the law requires him to investigate when anyone in a school feels uncomfortable or threatened by another student.

"We never know what's percolating in the minds of children," says Maranzano. "And when they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty."

Ethan says administrators did not listen to his side of the story. He underwent a five-hour physical and psychological evaluation, which came back clean.  

He's now waiting to find out when he can return to school. 

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