N.J. 6th Grader Suspended After Finding Lighter

Father Livid School District Called Object A 'Weapon'

JAMESBURG, N.J. (1010 WINS/ CBS 2) – A head-scratching act of discipline has perplexed a New Jersey town. A sixth grade student was suspended from school amidst a very serious accusation.

But as CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reports, the boy’s family said the school’s accusations are overzealous.

“I’m not happy about this, no,” Pat Halpin said.

Halpin said he still can’t believe his 11-year-old son Owen, a Boy Scout, was suspended from his middle school in Jamesburg for carrying what administrators called “a weapon.”

“Why is he being suspended for a lighter?” Halpin said.

That’s right. The weapon they said was a lighter. Owen said he found it on his way to school Wednesday on school property and brought it to the bleachers. Another student saw it and told a teacher who then confiscated it and alerted administrators.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg speaks with Patrick Halpin, the student’s father

“We take our security here very seriously,” said Jamesburg School District superintendent Gail Verona.

Verona said she stands behind the suspension.

“We have a zero tolerance for anybody bringing in anything that could cause potential harm to our students,” Verona said.

But Owen’s dad said his son never even flicked it and is still burned about the term “weapon.”

“My son’s a Boy Scout. He will pick something up and throw it in the garbage. This is what his intent was,” Halpin told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

“Well, I consider anything that can cause potential harm a weapon,” Verona responded.

But the story doesn’t end there. Oh no, not by a long shot.

Halpin called local police, alerting them there were more weapons in the school. He said some teachers there probably carry lighters. The cops came, talked to school officials and that was that.

Owen was suspended for one day. He was back in school Thursday.

When asked if he made a mistake, Owen said, “Yeah, definitely. Really stupid mistake to bring a lighter into school.”

Where many are hoping the lighter story will flame out and go away.

Jamesburg Police said they support the school’s decision to suspend the student for a day.

  • eric

    Lucky for the kid, they didn’t find the 9mm in hidden in his lunch box


    I went over this very scenario with my kids years ago. They are 12 and 14 now and both know there will be hell to pay for getting into trouble for something like this. Apparently it was another student who knew better who reported the first student having the lighter. Point is he shouldn’t have had it at the bleachers showing it off. Just should have turned it in.

  • Grams

    All I have to say is Good God! Things have gotten sooooo out of control. Everything can be used as a weapon if one knows how. So, is everyone going to live in their own personal bubble. No one THINKS anymore, no ONE! Before long hair salons will be put out of business because of the scissors, which begs the question…don’t students use scissors in school? Oh. now what…suspend everyone including the teaches?

  • puddntane

    The kid had the lighter out showing it to other students and probably smarted off to the teacher and then his father got into the picture. We don’t know everything that happened. Unfortunately, kids his age are smoking cigarettes or pot. He had no business with the lighter and I applaud the teacher and school board for their no tolerance policy. It sounds like another excuse by an over permissive parent.

  • Laura

    When I went to school, a lot of kids that age had lighters. Unfortunately, they also had cigarettes. Ditto for the teachers.

    • Jen

      That’s what I’m saying! I totally touched on cigarettes in my post.

  • Paul

    I am getting sick and tire of stupid people being in charge. So I guess science and math books will be consider weapons. Suspend the principal let her see how it feels

  • Bob Walton

    Jamesburg school superintendent Gail Verona continues to prove that common sense is not a not a prerequisite for her tax-paid position.





    • Rick A Hyatt

      I was a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, and the one thing I learned was to always “Be prepared.”
      I’ve carried a pocket knife all my life, and especially since I moved to Wyoming, a Bic lighter, as well.
      Here, on can be caught in a sudden snowstorm, but with training, one can build a snow cave and also find tinder (Another Scout thing: Building a fire) to live the night.
      A knife is not only a self-defense tool, it has many uses in survival. Oh, there where the kid lives, is not at hazard for disaster?
      Why don’t you have somebody glue your eyes open and have you re-indoctrinate yourself with multiple viewings of “Crocodile Dundee?”

  • JS

    Clearlyhe was going to light his farts

  • Scott Bennett

    “In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made School Boards.” Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain

    • Rick A Hyatt

      Why don’t they teach that at schools, these days?

  • I, Chihuahua

    Soon enough children will not be allowed to step outside without helmets & padding.

  • Richard

    I just read that the Facebook CEO is donating 100 Million to the NJ School System because it has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country. I do not believe that any amount of money can help the schools in this state. Sounds like they have some great employees in the school system there.. From the teachers to the superintendant to the Chief of Police. Just plain Ignorant. If the boy was caught trying to light it then the suspension might be appropriate.

  • Felicidad

    I can’t worry about this when I have camping with my husband on my mind.

  • Fely

    I can’t worry about this when I have camping with my husband on my mind.

  • Martin

    Don’t forget the weapons, like a lighter, that are in the teachers’ and staff desks, cars, etc. And the paring knives for their fruit. And windows – you can break them and hurt someone with the glass. And the soft drink cans – they can be projectiles – or bent until they tear, revealing a sharp edge. Oh – what about books? They are HARD, you know. Worst – the IDIOTS (elected / appointed) running our schools!

  • Allen

    I can’t say it better than Amanda, Mo, Iora, and Fely. With the good educators we have in this country it is a shame we have a few idiots like this superintendent that reflect so poorly on them.

  • leo

    another reason not to trust the police…….

    • Rick A Hyatt

      Check out the Youtube video from the ACLU on how to handle traffic stops and cops in general. You have the Constitutional Right not to talk to them at all, and most people nowadays don’t even know that.

  • jd

    The worst weapon of all is the principals mouth, fire the principal

    • mary jane papp

      i agree , msverona and the jamesburg police need to get their heads out of their butts

  • r. mckenney

    one can find individuals who are certifiable idiots in every human endeavor in every country of the world. People who label our public schools on the presentation of ONE tragic example, are quite as useless as the participants in that one One tragic example. What do you expect in a nation as huge, disorganized, and divirsified and ambious as the USA opertes, today? This narration is not even worth print, as it stirs up every trigger-minded respondent to action/division in its’ readership.

    • Joe Mama

      This said by someone who uses made up words like “ambious” and “opertes”.

    • aa915

      Apparently America not only “opertes,” it opertes huge! Let’s not forget “divirsified”! Probably written by a teacher.

  • Fely

    Amen to Amanda’s statement above. At the very least be consistent and suspend all teachers and staff that have matches or lighters on them.

  • lora

    Great, the lesson we have learned today, class, is if we are really stupid we can get high paying jobs with great benefits – all paid for by the taxpayers!! Now class, on the count of three, everyone flick your bic in praise of these morons!!

  • rb

    You have more rights in jail. Come on! Hello! You can use a pencil as a shank in school. Hey this is an idea. Why don’t we just send the tough as nails zero tolerance educators to work in the jails to put the convicted felons in line and give them the education instead.

    • Rick A Hyatt

      Pencils & pens and anything metallic really should be chained to the desk. And all students should be forced to take off their shoelaces and belts and scarfs, lest they be used as ligatures or strangulation weapons. But arm the security police with infantry weapons (SWAT) lest our youth turn into mobs of unhappy voters.

  • Mo

    OMG, ya better throw out the superintendent, principal, and the chief of police because they are so dumb and have no common sense. I believe they are a danger to all everyone!

  • TD Walter Segall

    when I was in 5th grade I experienced the first rushes of puberty, and I had something almost all of the time which had the potential to cause harm.

    Of course, it only had potential.


    • Joe Mama


  • Amanda McKnight

    I’m sorry, but what a sad state of affairs. Not only is the school administration at fault here, but the Sheriff department is just pleased as punch with the school’s decision to suspend the child. Sounds like the parents in that area need to vote in a new school board and a new Sheriff… Then petition that the Superintendent be removed from her position.

  • Alex

    Scouts know how to handle fire. They also have a set a morals. Its like a kid who hunts ith his father finding a gun, he would know how to safely use it. If i had to trust a lighter to a boy scout or some kid off the street, I`d trust the scout.

  • db44

    The boy Scouts at least have been exposed to camp fires and taught fire safety, and like the father said teachers have lighters if they smoke.

    Liberals need to just stop the hissy fits because “some one could get hurt”, we are raising a nation of wimps and leaches.

    • Don

      You can say that again!

    • Rick A Hyatt

      Worse than that” Since our corrupt and infiltrated Congress long ago allowed food manufacturers to use corn syrup instead of sugar, our now currently VERY OBESE youth couldn’t fit into a sub, a Humvee, a tank, or even pass Basic Training, should a war require them to be drafted.
      70% of all modern youth, I have read, are not qualified for military service, so I have read. And all of them were indoctrinated in school to “Not carry (BIC) weapons,” less even contemplate using them.
      “OH! Don’t shoot the enemy, it might hurt them!”

      • Rick A Hyatt

        BUT! Not to worry, we have HILLARY CLINTON!! (True feminist) and NANCY PELOSI! And Reid! To protect us from War, Pestilence , famine, droughts, and floods and other Acts of God!
        They will solve it all by having Obama mandate MORE Stimulus payments!
        (Who’s gonna pay? I’m sure our grandchildren won’t mind, they just need to get the permission – And subsequent control – of the CHICOMS to loans us even more Hope they don’t foreclose on the White House….)

    • Rick A Hyatt

      “Exposed” to camp fires? Is that like being “Exposed” to pornography,” or something? “Safety?” Like George Washington said, those who give up their freedoms in exchange of security, deserve what they get. (A Police State)
      “Trained” would be a better word.
      Living in the high Rocky Mountains, and having camped out a lot of my life, there is trained skill in making fires for heat and cooking, and I must remind you that most recently GHW Bush “Teamed” up with the Socialist, Bill Clinton, to advise all Americans to have a two-week supply of food, water, plastic sheeting to cover windows and tape, breathing masks, etc, “In case of a natural disaster.”
      Whether that means radioactive fallout blowing over the Pacific coming from Red China, some new “Flu” epidemic, or an electromagnetic pulse from either a nuke sky burst, or solar storm (no electricity), if you don’t know how to BUILD a fire, you’d better learn. It’s not as simple as you thing. Thank God the Boy Scouts do what they can.
      But our “Schools” teach our children to fail, not to survive.

  • rob

    Suspension is a bit much…since no one actually knows the childs true intentions.


    • Diana

      that’s a really “liberal” response.

  • foedoe

    This is so tragic! What has this country become where we have to be afraid of an eleven year old. But the scariest part of this situation is that the police agreed with the school’s actions. Get use to it people, this is a military and police run country and we are all considered potential “killers” and even the courts are no refuge. A sad day indeed. How to turn it around?

  • leonida t mcintyre

    how about high heels, dats a deadly weapon,hELLOOOO
    MS VERONA IS WEARING ,fired her….

  • Fred Johnson

    We don’t need no edication by DA^^^^^ LIBERAL INDOCTRINATORS!!!


    • Diana

      Once Obama succeeds in ruining EVERY job in America, I don’t see why their parents can’t home school them. That could be a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Diana

    Can you believe these are the kind of people we have looking over our children?

  • caro

    Perfect way of aggravating parents and not wanting them to work with the schools, cause they’re wasting their time. A little note for the parents would be enough, but suspension is way over the line!

  • Bruce M.

    School officials are too paranoid,and they do not give kids the proper respect
    that they will do the right thing according to the rules. Maybe the adults need to take lessons from the kids. It seems as though that they are teaching more about
    being grown up than we give them credit for.
    Shame on you Grace Breckwedel Middle School and that school system.

  • SRMc

    1985 – 5th grader has a lighter – teacher takes it away
    2010 – 5th grader has a lighter – student is suspended, ordered to undergo counseling, school schedules assembly to discuss the danger of fire.

    How sad! No wonder we’re falling behind the rest of the world. Our schools are so paranoid about petty things that they forget to EDUCATE.

    If I was that student’s father, I would sue the school district for being STUPID.

  • RB

    Most educators are so caught up in their power that they lose sight of common sense. We, as a nation, can take our schools back…but we have to do something.

    • Diana

      I don’t think they had any common sense to begin with. You can’t lose something you never had.

    • Lorri

      Common Sense is not so common anymore.

  • rich

    Then the school should closed down, because the students themselves can cause violence.

  • John P. Stone

    what kind of an idiot is this Police Chief?
    If that is the was the school and police chief believe maybe they should replace them for someone with common sense

  • Henry

    Well I guess every teacher or Aide in the school, must leave their lighters home.

    • RIck A Hyatt

      By orders of the Fuerher!

  • Patrick

    Beware of biowarfare attacks in the schools. Every kid who comes to school sick should be suspended for this act of terrorism.

    Gail Verona: All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.

  • Nickie

    And society gets more rediculous every day…

    • Rick A Hyatt

      That’s what happens the more the Fed’s control everything, like schools…

  • A Lyon

    when i was in school kids used their lighters to give others hot pants and once in awhile someone would catch on fire then there was the occasional wall or poster or desk that would go up in flames probably not a good idea to allow lighters

    • Rick A Hyatt

      I believe as you do: OUTLAW FUN.

  • alexdarc

    Whatever happened to just taking things away? It’s not like he had a machete.
    Schools have become ridiculous about having “drugs” (my kid can’t carry their epi-pen at school – it is a drug!) and “weapons” – last I remember our bullies at school didn’t need weapons, so long as they had their fists, and nasty mouths.

    • Rick A Hyatt

      It’s the new Obamathink indoctrination: They must be taught how to obey the bully Brown Shirts and be very obedient.
      In the New World Order.

  • Paul Carroll

    He was trying to say that because his son is a Boy Scout he is a good kid, and in no way hurt anyone.

    • Elena

      Being a Boy Scout doesn’t preclude anti-social behavior.

      • Rick A Hyatt

        Don’t you mean “Anti-Socialist behavior?”
        I admire your National Socialist propaganda!

  • Ellen

    And these are the idiots TEACHING our children-scary

    • Leboure

      They went too far in suspending the kid. The right thing to do was to just take lighter away from him and inform his parents. No more action was needed. Anyway, he hurt NOBODY!

  • kris

    OMG you better remove pencil’s and pens from school , someone might stab someone , there weapons lmao you people are jokes !

    • david

      hey you forgot about baseball bats and what about knives in the kitchen

  • sandra mcfarland

    i think the school jumped the gun. so the boy found a lighter, did the teachers even stop to consider the fact that the boy was trying to give it to them??? come on people not all kids are KILLERS. the boy is a BOY SCOUT for GODs sake take a little time to ask before jumping to conclusions. if i was the boy,s parents i would take this to court.

    • RAMS

      ok first of all the article is incorrect, it was a sixth grader, old enough to know not to touch lighters. All this nonsense is just stupid attention for the parents. This is telling their kids and other kids that it is okay to bring lighters to school; that could of caused harm to others. Where is the discipline? Why would this child even pick up the lighter? This should be people’s concerns, instead people immediately accused the school and officials, people who are trying to protect the students. Would you have wanted them to not care, or would you accuse them of not doing anything. What would have happened if this was at your child’s school, i think you all would have different opinions then, well i hope so. The only thing that gets me was that the student would only be suspended for a day and a half, thats less punishment then what they deserve. The parents are exaggerating and making nothing into something…

      OH, and too bad he was giving it to the school, instead he was showing it off to other students. And being a boy scout doesn’t mean he is an angel. Taking this to court would only make it worse, and tell other students that it is okay to bring in objects like this…. Comments like this make me wonder about people.

      • J

        “Old enough to know not to touch lighters?” Since when is touching a lighter a crime? If I’m a sixth grader, I know better than to go around setting things on fire. Possessing a lighter is not and never has been a crime.

        If this was my child’s school, I’d be terrified of the teacher’s outrageous stupidity and overreaction. I plan on teaching my child to use every conceivable weapon she can get her hands on, improvised or not, so that she will be prepared for life in an unpleasant world. These teachers are not teaching our children to behave like adults, they are teaching them to be overly dependent cowards.

      • James

        Comments like yours makes me worried about all the drama queens in this world. You all take something very minor, and blow it way out of proportion. When I was in school kids had lighters all the time, and funny…NO ONE ever got hurt. You are nothing more than a common fear monger!!! This country is being pushed to the edge of insanity because of people like you. Guess what? There are STILL tons of kids in schools with lighters….and STILL, NOT a single person is being harmed.

      • bill

        you must be a dumb ass. pull your head out of your ass and get some common sense

      • Rick A Hyatt

        One must remember that we no longer Obamathink in terms of law: what the kid did was a potential MIND CRIME in that he POTENTIALLY possessed the possibility of a future use of such lighter in TERRORISTIC manner, thusly trangressing the APA’s DSM-IV-TR BIBLE of “Correct mental thinking.”
        It’s so convenient for the Police State to not only put away those with UN-PC thinking, but also to indoctrinate the young as well.
        Heil Pelosi! Heil Reid! Heil Obama!
        (Where’s the birth certificate?)

    • hell yeah

      the school jumped the gun yes, but it doesn’t say he was trying to turn it in. to say “he’s a boy scout for god sakes is the same as he’s a cop he couldn’t commit a crime. just saying.

  • Chris

    what?!? are they going to ban pencils next?

    • becca

      They can’t even afford pencils..

  • Joe Mama

    They better take away all of the pens and pencils because they could definitely be used to put someone’s eye out! And rulers should be banned since someone could shove it down someone’s throat! And paper should be eliminated because it could be held over someone’s mouth until they stop breathing! And no more computers or monitors – they could be smashed over someone’s head! We better just close down all of the schools since they’re death traps!

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