School district officials opted to give Riley Rencich one day of in-school suspension, which she served on Friday, her father said.
CRESTVIEW, Fla. — An Antioch Elementary School father is blasting the Okaloosa County School District after he says his daughter was unfairly punished for telling another student during an argument that her dad owns a gun store.
Andrew Rencich, who spent 14 years as a Green Beret with the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base and is now with the Army National Guard, owns AA Tactical Inc. in Crestview. His 9-year-old daughter, Riley, is a third-grade student at Antioch.
On May 1, Rencich says he and his wife were working at the gun shop when his wife got a call from a school official telling them their daughter had threatened to shoot another student.
“My wife said, ‘Excuse me,’ and my chair turned around at Mach 3 because that was something burned in my brain due to everything going on right now and because of what we do for a living,” Rencich said.
According to a discipline referral form Rencich posted on Facebook and provided to the Daily News, a teacher said that at the end of the day Monday while changing classes, Riley was “being mean” to another student.
“The student told her if she didn’t quit, she was going to tell her dad,” the teacher wrote on the form. “Riley told her she didn’t care, her dad owned a gun store and she had guns.”
The teacher went on to say that the day prior, Riley had taken a piece of candy while the teacher stepped out of the room.
OCSD Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson would not comment on the matter but confirmed to the Daily News the incident was under investigation.
School district officials opted to give Riley one day of in-school suspension, which she served on Friday, her father said. He added that he took Riley out of school for two days while he consulted with legal counsel.
School board member Rodney Walker said he felt the punishment was “very appropriate.”
“They didn’t carry it to the point where the law would have gotten involved with it, and they did a counseling session with the little girl and pointed out the inappropriate behavior,” he said.
But Rencich says the school is overreacting and that his daughter has not been given due process.
“It’s two 9-year-olds talking about how big their dad is,” he said. “It’s knee-jerk political rhetoric … and the kid might not have even had a clue, but the parents said ‘OK, yeah, not happening, that is a threat.’”
Rencich said that even if his daughter did tell the other student her dad owned a gun shop, it shouldn’t be perceived as a threat she was going to shoot her.
“I understand heightened awareness, but we also have to use our brains to process common sense,” he said.
Annie Blanks is a reporter for the Northwest Florida Daily News.