Hardened Delaware criminal and recent Cub Scout recruit Zachary Christie faces 45 days in reform school for bringing a camping utensil to school. School officials decided that the utensil, which combines knife, fork and spoon, violated the district’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
Under the Christina School District’s amazingly detailed 80-page Student Code of Conduct – a single code for all students from kindergarten through 12th grade – possessing any weapon results in an automatic suspension “regardless of possessor’s intent.” (p. 48) This applies to knives regardless of blade length, though knives with blades more than three inches long – and other “weapons” ranging from actual deadly weapons to BB guns, soft pellet guns, and “non-functional weapons” – mean immediate expulsion.
The code also contains an “inappropriate behavior” section that outlaws, among other things, “any suggestion by one or more persons involving the use or display of body parts generally referred to as ‘private,'” which if taken seriously I think would require suspending every K-12 student every day.
School officials said that under the code, they had no discretion in the matter and were required to suspend the boy. This is despite the fact that the state has a law that was intended to give school boards more discretion. That law was passed after a third-grader came to school with a cake and a knife to cut it with. The teacher cut the cake, served it, and then called the principal. The girl was expelled for a year. But that law currently only applies to cases of expulsion, so it won’t help Zachary.
The next school-board meeting is apparently scheduled for tomorrow, and is expected to be fairly lively.