This is great news. I just commented on this story yesterday as it was rattling around the blogosphere. I said: “Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Why expel a kid for forgetting to take his nail clippers out of his bag? Oh wait. I’m sure that he actually meant to shiv someone in the lunch line, and that he wasn’t just hygienically conscious. Now if it’s an actual knife, that’s different, but clippers, or in this case, a spork/ camping cutlery, that’s just crazy. You have to question the priorities of whichever administrator brought attention to this in the first place. Let’s hope this gets resolved soon. Unfortunately in today’s news climate, with war, healthcare, and the economy, it may be overlooked.”
Well, I’m happy to say no, it didn’t get overlooked, and justice has prevailed. For those who don’t know, 6 year old Zachary Christie was suspended and forced to attend an alternative school for violent offenders when he brought in his new favorite camping utensil to eat lunch with. He is a model student and excited about learning. Apparently he would wear suits to school of his own volition. Being a Cub Scout, he loved his newest camping implement and wanted to use it at school. But his school had a zero tolerance policy against weapons and he was suspended, facing a 45 day sentence. His mother protested and bloggers (like you and me!) spoke out and brought dialogue to the national stage.
I understand that we need to keep our schools safe, and if kids bring box-cutters, knives, guns, etc. to school they should face the consequences. However, I think the zero-tolerance policy needs to be amended for special circumstances. For example: we have a technical school in Syracuse that teaches local high school students trades like automotive maintenance, fashion, cosmetics, cooking, nursing, carpentry, etc. Imagine a student enrolled in the cosmetics program. She doesn’t have time to go home between classes to get her beauty supplies, so she carries them with her in her backpack. Her school on the southside conducts a random weapons search and finds her nail clippers, file, and maybe some shears for hair. Uh oh. She a violent offender for sure! Lock her up before she stabs someone! Nevermind that she’s a straight A student and always nice to everyone. She planning something. Policies like this need to be under constant scrutiny so that we can protect our young people rights and make sure they feel like America is a good place to live and not some dictatorship. Enough of their rights are taken away already in school. How to dress, speak, where they can or can’t walk and when. For the sake of good students everywhere, review your local school’s policies before another six year old’s bright vision of school is shattered and re-fused from the ashes as bitter cynicism at a broken system.