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Continued: Teen expelled over pocketknife used for chores; school pressed to reconsider zero-tolerance policy

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 8, 2014 - 10:14 AM

Different punishment for lighter?

While preparing the appeal, Johnson said other kids who have brought prohibited items to school didn’t get expelled.

For example, he said, one school board member’s child brought a lighter, which is also on the district’s weapons list, and is supposed to trigger a recommendation that the student be expelled, according to the student handbook.

Board Chair Kathy Krebsbach didn’t return Star Tribune inquiries, and Jensen indicated that state data practices law prohibits him from responding on individual discipline.

The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage district is one district that has backed off zero tolerance, instead giving school officials latitude to consider such criteria as a student’s age, behavioral history and special needs and the circumstances that led the student to bring a weapon.

That followed a case in which a seventh-grader who used the scissors on a Swiss army knife to work on a class project was suspended and headed for suspension when his father withdrew him from the district.

Zero-tolerance policies became popular in the 1990s, and the United South Central district’s policy mandates immediate suspension, confiscation of the weapon, immediate notification of police and parent or guardian and a dismissal recommendation.

 

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

Twitter: @brandtstrib

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  • EXPULSIONS

    • 238 in Minnesota public schools 2011-2012 school year

    • 74 were for illegal drugs

    • 65 were for weapons with 50 being knives. Most were pocket knives with a blade of 2½ inches or more.

    Source: State Department of Education

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