Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Clean-up on aisle common sense!

The Associated Press reports that the Christina School Board in Delaware voted unanimously to lift a 45 day suspension handed down to an elementary school student who brought his favorite camping utensil to school for lunch last month. The problem with said utensil was that it's a 3-way folding utensil, a combination folding knife, spoon, & fork. The knife part is what got Zachary Christie in trouble, when he innocently brought the utensil with him, intent on using the other parts (spoon & fork) to eat his lunch.

The key word is "innocently". Zachary, you see, is only 6, and in the 1st grade. The school board needed to make immediate changes in their policy after young Zachary was suspended, because the rule is actually meant, I think, for older students, from 4th or 5th graders on up, not for kindergarteners & 1st graders. You can't expect a 5 or 6 year old child to understand that a 3-way camping utensil can be construed, as it was in this case, as a potential weapon. According to the AP, Zachary is being welcomed back to class today, but he's not the first one to have been a victim of knee-jerk discipline in the district. The AP piece also mentions that a 5th grader was expelled for bringing a serrated knife with her to school last season, along with a birthday cake. The knife was intended for use to cut the cake. The expulsion was overturned, and the girl was allowed to return to school, same as Zachary.

It doesn't stop there. A 13 year old boy is now being home-schooled because the district punished him for carrying a knife that was planted on him by a group of bullies who hassled him last season. The bullies got away scot free, insofar as we know. Based on these three cases, it seems that the administrators in the Christina district can't---or worse, won't---take the time or the resources to gather all the facts, and take everything, including alibis from the bullies, at face value. It's one thing to be concerned with the safety of everyone at school because of the threat of violence, in this day & age, but what happens when the faculty is negligent in its "diligent" duties to the students? Innocence is lost, piece by piece.

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