First-Grader With Camp Knife Back in School

Board shortens punishment from 45 days to 3
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 14, 2009 12:14 PM CDT
Debbie Christie, right, mother of Zachary Christie, 6, not pictured, and her fiance Lee Irving, left, attend a Christina School District board meeting yesterday.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Delaware first-grader suspended for bringing a camping knife to school is welcome to return after the school board amended its zero-tolerance policy. Zachary Christie was to spend 45 days at an alternative school; now, kindergarten and 1st-grade students with a “dangerous instrument”—a blade less than 3 inches—face a 3-to-5-day suspension and counseling. “We need to recognize the cognitive level of these kids,” a school board member tells the News Journal.

“We need to provide a little leeway,” the member continues. An expert says boards often arrive at these draconian policies as a way to eliminate discrimination, but it doesn’t make the situation any less bizarre. “They're scared of opening themselves up to a lawsuit so they turn to these one-size-fits-all policies,” he says. “But unfortunately that leads to some crazy kind of decisions and some strange and odd outcomes.”