Beattie is not an Iowa public school system student according to state law because his first-grade class is held at a church, but county officials released a statement that all homeschool students are bound to discipline policies set forth by the state.
And in Iowa, there is a zero tolerance policy in regards to weapons.
“Whether it’s an empty shell or a loaded shell, it’s considered part of a weapon and unsafe,” Leigh McGivern, a district spokeswoman said. “We have students who don’t know the difference. The policy is, let’s be unequivocal about it. Don’t bring anything like that to school. And that way they don’t have to use judgment as a child.”
The chance that a dropped shotgun shell would explode are “one in a million,” one weapons expert reported to USA Today.
“The danger is remote, but it’s there and the odds escalate when the shotgun shell primer detonates usually from being slammed against an object,” said John Underwood, a Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of Des Moines agent.
While his parents did not know Beattie brought the shell to his class, Matthias and his father Dan, who is a church pastor, found the shotgun shell while renovating their Carlisle farmhouse. Dan said he has used the situation to educate Matthias about firearms and gun safety, and allowed his son to keep the shell.
Charlene Beattie says her son is “a little kid from the farm” who had no harmful intent and does not agree with the district’s punishment.