Zero Tolerance is Zero Intelligence

Filed in National by on October 6, 2009

We were sent this link via our tip line. This does seem to be a perfect example of where zero tolerance policies at our schools offer no intelligence:

Zachary is six years old and was a first grader at Downes Elementary School in Newark, Delaware. [...]

On Tuesday, September 29th, Zachary brought his camping utensil to school to use at lunch (spoon, fork, bottle opener, and knife). As he was getting off the bus, a teacher asked him what he was holding in his hand. Zachary showed it to her and explained why he had brought it… to eat his lunch. The teacher gave the utensil to the principal, at which point Zach was suspended from school pending a school district hearing.

The [Christina] School District committee recommended that he be alternatively placed at The Douglass School, a reform school for juvenile delinquents. This is the same school where they place children who have severe behavioral problems and who are guilty of such offenses as assault and battery, rape, drug offenses, concealing a deadly weapon, and more. Since there is absolutely zero chance that we will allow that to happen, the only hope for Zachary being able to rejoin his friends at Downes Elementary is if Christina School District Superintendent Marcia Lyles or the Christina School Board intervenes to overturn the committee’s decision.

Did you catch the fact that HE IS SIX YEARS OLD?!?!?! We haven’t spoken to anybody who believes that the zero tolerance policy is either rational or reasonable, but the District continues to follow it in spite of legislation (HB 120) that calls for school districts to use sound judgment in reviewing these cases.

Please help! Please send emails and letters to the Christina School Board and to Christina School District Superintendent Marcia Lyles (contact info listed below)… MOST IMPORTANTLY, Please come to the School Board meeting on Tuesday, October 13th. Our goal is to have 10,000 people there to make the School Board listen to reason and stop victimizing the same innocent children they are supposed to be protecting.

Come to the School Board meeting and make your voice heard!

October 13, 2009
General Business Meeting ~ 7:30 pm
Porter Road Elementary School
500 Caledonia Way, Bear, DE

I don’t know Zachary or his parents, but on the face of this story, the facts seem to indicate nothing more than confiscation of the camping utensil with its later return to Zachary’s parents, and nothing more. To suspend him and then send him to a school for juvenile delinquents is not only assine, it is cruel. Now, I highly doubt 10,000 people will ever make it out to a Christina School Board meeting, but if you agree that the zero tolerance policy at work here is not only counterproductive, but cruel, then please consider contacting the Christina School Board or attend the meeting.

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  1. Zachary’s Story Goes National : Delaware Liberal | October 12, 2009
  1. RSmitty says:

    They (the school district) just went through this same thing last year. That was the motivation behind the bill you mentioned.

  2. Delaware Dem says:

    That makes this incident even more egregious. Please tell me that the principal at the Downes school is something more than a robot.

  3. RSmitty says:

    The only thing I can tell you about Downes is that I went there from K-3, before being bussed up to Mary C I Williams, now known as “Adams Four”.

  4. John Young says:

    DD, the principal has done nothing wrong. The policy is the issue. The policy was followed to the letter. I have very strong feelings on this as a CSD Board Member. I have been in contact with both Zach’ mother and my administration.

    I cannot stress this more: the policy is the issue.

    Leadership is the solution.

  5. Tim Pancoast says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. This story is revolting. This is cruel and unusual punnishment. I am not from the district but I will send them a message with my opinion anyways.

  6. I agree with you. We make a joke of education when we teach children that we have no common sense. Education is about teaching discretion discernment,and distinction. Zero tolerance is zero sense.

  7. So there’s a policy where the teachers and the principal has absolutely no discretion at all? That’s pretty insane. Seriously, what would be the consequence should the principal just decides to use his/her judgment in cases like this?

  8. Progressive Mom says:

    Forgive me for asking this question (and, for disclosure, I live in a different state): What does “The policy is the issue” mean? Did the policy float down from the heavens and land in this school district? Is it protected by an all-powerful invisible deadly force field and thus cannot be touched?

    What does “The policy is the issue?” mean if there is actually state legislation that requires “sound judgement?”

    Honestly, that answer sounds like policies come from someplace other than the school district itself!

  9. John Young says:

    This policy allows building administration to act as agents of information. A case in which an item that is classified as a dangerous instrument, gets an automatic suspension pending a hearing, in this case 4 days later. The time allows district administration to conduct an investigation. The hearing with parents and district then concludes with the discipline decision. In this case to alternatively place the child in a special school.

    A principal cannot send a child to this school on his/her own authority.

    On the other hand, had the principal confiscated the knife, called the parents and and not reported this to district there are two possible outcomes: 1) helpzachary.com never happens and/or 2) if the prinicpal is caught not reporting a dangerous instrument then he/she is subject to disciplinary action for violating the code of conduct.

    I cannot stress enough, the principal did the right thing here. As a Board member, I cannot condone not reporting the confiscation of a camping knife. I can have concerns regarding the efficacy of placing Zachary in an alternative school and have shared those concerns with my administration.

    I am under pressure to support the district’s decision, but I firmly believe that I was elected to represent the voters of this district. Furthermore, I am convinced they feel this policy is wrongheaded and applied inconsistently. I will support any and all efforts to restore the faith of our parents in the discipline processes of the Christina School District.

  10. John Young says:

    the legislation applies only to expulsions and thus is too narrow to apply in this case.

    When I say the policy is the issue, I mean that when the policy as set forth in the Code of Conduct, owned by the School Board, has been followed to the letter and yields this result, then the policy has created he outcome. The Board has no review authority in this case by policy. District administration has made their decision according to the way the policy is written. Yet, we as a district have some angry constituents…..the policy is the issue.

    TO fix this situation, we must change the policy. Changing the policy has a process that cannot be completed in a timely fashion so as to affect this case. So the only way to get this particular decision changed is to appeal to the superintendent as helpzachary.com is suggesting.

  11. liberalgeek says:

    Actually, there are state laws that are designed to have “zero tolerance” for “violence in our schools.” I believe that these policies are then handed to the districts and codified as “possession of a knife – alternative placement.”

    Unfortunately, both sides of the aisle have shown themselves to be short-sighted when it comes to these laws.

  12. John Young says:

    the knife is deadly weapon at 3in or greater, thus expulsion. If knife is less than 3″ it is dangerous instrument, thus alt. placement. KEY LANGUAGE in code: regardless of intent.

  13. liberalgeek says:

    I just dug a little deeper in the helpzachary website and I see that the General Assembly did back down from the zero tolerance policies. But only slightly. Now the law says that when the appeal goes to the school board, they can determine whether or not the punishment is appropriate.

    So here we are, poor Zachary has only one possible out, the school board. The teacher had no discretion, the guidance counselor had none, the principal had none, the superintendent had none. Only the school board. Talk about high stakes.

  14. John Young says:

    The superintendent does have discretion at the hearing/ to overturn the hearing decision. She runs the district, period.

    The School Board has none. Only in appeals of expulsions, not in alt. placements. HB 120 which is now law allows School Board to modify terms of an expulsion. Very narrow. We cannot undue the expulsion itself, just modify its terms.

  15. Delaware Dem says:

    Thank you for your comments here John. Now we have an item to address in the next session of the General Assembly.

  16. Nosy says:

    This state’s schools are a joke. Just a joke. This is so sad and ridiculous. These adults in administrative and teaching positions “teaching” our children can’t use some fuckin’ common sense? Why did that teacher even bother the principal with something so stupid? Take the utensil, contact the parents to explain the situation and to return it, clase closed! Screw the policy! This child was obviously not being violent or trying to hurt anyone. It’s insane!!! When does the teaching happen in these schools?

    Screw the policy — teach the kids!

  17. If Terry Schooley’s bill doesn’t address this kind of situation after all then I am fully disgusted. Discretion should be with the teacher and parent first. Teacher should relay problem to parents cc’ing the Principal in cases like this.

    Is this a photo of the child in question? That is borderline criminal to be publishing images of this kid, IMHO so I hope it is just a generic image.

  18. MJ says:

    Nancy, how is a parent putting a picture of their child on their website “borderline criminal?”

  19. liberalgeek says:

    It is a picture of the child, and it was published by his parents on the website that we have linked to.

  20. liberalgeek says:

    And for the record, when I was a teacher, rules like this were drilled into us at the beginning of the school year. If you don’t take the item and report it, it isn’t just a disciplinary action (you will likely be fired), but there is in many cases a requirement to notify the police.

    So if the teacher does have sense, they are not permitted to use it.

  21. liberalgeek says:

    I’m sure that this will drive Nancy crazy…

  22. liberalgeek says:

    uh-oh, this will be head-exploding:

  23. RSmitty says:

    OK, while I think like you all do in that this unified discipline is way too cookie cutter and overall detrimental, here is something that has yet to be offered:
    Does anyone know if the parents have been given a verbal smacking around in regard to either letting the child even bring something with a knife in it, or simply allowing him unattended access to it? That is where the responsibility starts.

    HOWEVER HOWEVER HOWEVER…this unified discipline is just way too simple and way too punitive considering there is no discretion.

  24. Delaware Dem says:

    Borderline criminal??!!?? Nancy, you are freaking insane. Seriously.

  25. liberalgeek says:

    Smitty – If I understand it correctly, it was a butter knife, not a steak knife. Hardly something to get up in arms about.

  26. RSmitty says:

    Geek, while that is a good counter-argument to the unattended access part, would you, as a parent, still allow your child to take anything remotely resembling a knife of any type; especially considering today’s environment of swift and absolute punitive response?

    Again, I want to be clear: these rules, in their regidity and cookie-cutter framework are misguided and woefully ill-defined.

  27. RSmitty says:

    Ack…missed my edit time. I also want to make clear again that there was absolutely room for discretion in this case, per what was made public, and proof yet again one-size-fits-all and no-tolerance-for-discretion type of justice is cowardly and devoid of what is truly just.

  28. I guess we’ll have to outlaw facebook if putting a picture of your child on a website is illegal.

  29. RSmitty says:

    Sheesh, on some angles, UI, that wouldn’t be so bad! It’s better for an open topic thread, but I’ve seriously considered de-friending some people simply because their posts and/or comments about or with their kids and/or significant other has become nauseating.

  30. cassandra_m says:

    Representatives Barbieri and Schooley just released a statement on this incident:

    NEWARK – In light of the recent news that a 6-year-old Christina School District student was suspended for carrying a “dangerous weapon” to school, House Education Committee chair Rep. Teresa L. Schooley, D-Newark, and Rep. Michael A. Barbieri, D-Newark, issued the following comments:

    Rep. Schooley, who chairs the House Education Committee and sponsored House Bill 120, which amended Delaware’s “zero tolerance” law for school discipline:

    “This is extremely disappointing to me as a parent, grandparent, former teacher and former school board member. It is really frustrating when you consider that we as a General Assembly just dealt with a similar situation through House Bill 120, which was designed to give school districts more discretion in dealing with these gray areas. Instead, officials are splitting hairs over the issue of ‘expulsion’ and ‘suspension’ and saying that their hands are tied.

    “The thing not to lose sight of here is that there is a young student who is being punished harshly – and unfairly – for what by all accounts was an innocent action. There is a child who undoubtedly will be hurt by the decisions the district has made. This is not the time or the situation to take such a strict stance. ‘Zero tolerance’ laws were created to help keeps schools safe from problem students, but lately they only seem to create problems for unsuspecting students.”

    Rep. Barbieri, who sponsored legislation creating a task force – which he chairs – to study school discipline and recommend changes to the policy:

    “This unfortunate situation is a perfect example of the type of issue we are working to prevent through the School Discipline Task Force. We established the task force because we believe that schools should need to use common sense and good rationale and not simply scapegoat the rules. The districts are abdicating their responsibilities by making issues clear cut when they are not. We need to exercise a common-sense approach when approaching these situations.

    “The task force is designed to look at things and help schools develop a range of action based on rational decision-making rather than being automatons doing things strictly by the book. We need to let the punishment fit the offense. The task force will produce recommendations that we as a General Assembly will act upon that will help create a more safe and positive environment for students that also allows school administrators and board members to address each situation in a common-sense manner.”

  31. Do you think teachers and administrators fall back on the “it’s the policy” excuse is because they’re terrified of being sued? If they no longer have to make judgments do they feel that they can’t be held accountable?

  32. I said ‘borderline’. Yes, you can link to what the adults put up on their family site but are you feeling very good about it? Something tells me no.

    Google facebook and you won’t get very far. Google DL and you will see this family’s photo…big difference.

  33. RSmitty says:

    Do you think teachers and administrators fall back on the “it’s the policy” excuse is because they’re terrified of being sued?

    I can see that as being part of it, but in no means intend to look at them as the cowards. In today’s society, fear of civil retribution is a very real and very legitimate concern. The one thing I agree with in any of this is that the teacher has to pass it up to the principal. It’s the rules that bind the principal that start to bother me.

  34. Geezer says:

    Nancy: No snark, I’m just wondering what problem you have with the kid’s photo.

  35. liberalgeek says:

    I see no difference. Did you click on the links?

  36. Delaware Dem says:

    Zachary’s family has published that photo on a website they created to publicize Zachary’s situation. On that website they ask for help in reversing the school district’s suspension and reassignment of Zachary. I posted that picture here in connection to that request for help. I am not misusing that photo or exploiting Zachary for my own gain. And neither are his parents.

    There is absolutely nothing borderline wrong or criminal in posting that photo, unless you want to ban all pictures of children being published everywhere and anywhere.

  37. pandora says:

    I’ve lost track of all the things I’ve found in my kids’ bookbags over the years – Gameboys, Pokemon card sets, photo albums, stuffed animals, scotch tape, candles, etc. Guess what I’m saying, Smitty, is that unless you empty your children’s bookbags every morning and afternoon… you just never know what goes through their minds and into their bookbags.

    We had an incident last week. My daughter had baked banana bread and wanted to take it into school – along with a 5″ plastic knife. I told her to leave the knife at home. She looked at me like I was nuts, and, you know what? I felt like an idiot.

    The fact that this case has gone this far makes everyone involved idiots. Meanwhile, while little Zach is doing hard time, the real problem students – you know, the ones smart enough to hide the knife because they figured out the system long ago and play it far better than any teacher, administrator or board member – remain in school.

  38. I just signed the petition. I had assumed that it was on facebook which isn’t googlable so, my bad there.

    Geezer – I don’t think it is cool to use the kid’s photo over this or any other matter like it. It’s not exactly something he’s gonna be proud of one day.

    Its a judgement call and in my view it wasn’t a good idea to post it here on a political blog. It belongs on the parent’s blog.

    One issue can be raised here is that it seems that after Sept. 30th or thereabouts, the state money that is carried with any child will stay with the school. Any child who is expelled after that date will not carry the money with them.

    The over-many black children who are expelled from their public school and sent to the alternative schools are leaving behind a pretty big pile of moolah. Jea Street is presenting this as a motive for schools to expell kids. I wouldn’t go that far but I would say that the money should stay with the child pro-rata where ever they end up.

  39. RSmitty says:

    Jea Street is presenting this as a motive for schools to expell kids. :roll:

    I wouldn’t go that far but I would say that the money should stay with the child pro-rata where ever they end up.
    Agreed!

  40. Why such actions by schools?

    Lawsuit abuse by parents who can’t believe their kid could possibly do anything wrong.

    The conversation usually goes like this:

    PARENT: You suspended my kid but not that kid. That’s discrimination!

    ADMINISTRATOR: Yes — your child brought a machete and an axe to school and tried to behead and disembowel several classmates and his science teacher. The other child brought a one-inch Swiss Army knife on a key chain that he used to trim his fingernails.

    PARENT: All I see is that you suspended my kid but not the other kid even though they both brought knives to school. I’m calling the ACLU and NAACP and all the local media!

    Six months later, after spending tens of thousand on litigation to get the frivolous case thrown out of court, the school board adopts a zero tolerance policy in an effort to save taxpayer money. Everyone thinks the results are absurd, but at least the district isn’t diverting resources from the classroom. And while the lives of a few good kids get ruined in the process, at least the district isn’t having to pay for litigating any more such suits.

    Am I defending such rules? HELL NO! But I know the mindset that leads to them.

  41. Von Cracker says:

    absurd example; rather extreme.

    but expected.

  42. Intentionally extreme to elicit chuckles — but let’s be honest about that being the sort of scenario you get on a regular basis.

    About five years ago, I had a parent threaten to sue me because I grabbed her son — to keep him from hitting one of our (female) assistant principals, How, she asked, did I know he was really going to hit her — just because he had balled his fist, cocked his arm, and shouted “Get out of my face, bitch, ‘fore I bust your head!” while lunging towards her? And I remember a lawsuit that was filed against my district a few years ago over the expulsion of a girl who stabbed one of our assistant principals in the chest with a screwdriver — her mother argued that she didn’t really mean to hurt the man, and that it was his fault because the AP should have stayed out of the way and let her daughter shank the girl who dissed her.

  43. MJ says:

    So Nancy, when will you answer the question in a sensible way? How is the posting of a child’s picture by his parents on a website set up to fight for justice for the kid “borderline criminal?”

  44. Von Cracker says:

    you don’t have to tell me! I taught for 4 years in our public school system.

    it’s amazing, the parental reflex to defend a child even for the most trivial of things. but with that said, there is something called justice, be it legal or social, and zero-tolerance and three-strikes policies tend not to serve it, by definition.

  45. Progressive Mom says:

    So because there are crazy parents in the school system, all parents should be treated as crazy.

    Does that mean that because there are some crazy teachers in the school system, all teachers should be treated as crazy?

    Seems fair to me.

  46. PM — I’m not arguing “should be”. I’m stating what is.

    That should have been clear when I wrote the following:

    Am I defending such rules? HELL NO! But I know the mindset that leads to them.

  47. rhubard says:

    Shorter version of controversy: Blame Jea Street.

  48. So Nancy, when will you answer the question in a sensible way? How is the posting of a child’s picture by his parents on a website set up to fight for justice for the kid “borderline criminal?”
    -MJ

    *
    MJ, try asking a sensible question? You’ve inverted my statement perfectly. I didn’t say that the parents’ using his picture was improper now did I?

    I did say that other’s use of it was IMHO. We keep minor kid’s names out of the news and I would think that would apply especially as much to their photos.

    The kid will grow up. In a few years this mistake will not be something that he’ll be very happy to have haunt him as a part of his permanent intertubes record. While it is news now and we can all agree that we want to help the family get this child reinstated at his school, once that is done and Terry Schooley has addressed her legislation’s shortcomings then everyone will have moved on.

    There’s no reason to make this more painful for this child than it already is.

    I see that his photo has been removed.
    Bravo.

  49. Steve says:

    I guess no room for discressional consideration huh? If it was indeed a camping utensil spoon,fork,and knife I think that they could take it away and call his parents to advise them. I don’t think that they were talkind about a hunting knife or something. The Principal should be able to distinguish a difference. The artical I read this from also said a Grandmother of a child sent in a birthday cake with a knife to cut it so they expelled the child for one year for the grandmother sending in a knife and Oh after the teacher used the knife to cut the cake. Was the teacher suspened for useing the knife? No. Why Not? You would be surprised how many teachers and aides have small knives (clippers) on their person or in their purse while in school. I has gone too far and from what I’ve read, the No Tolerence rules don’t make our schools any safer. If a child wants to bring a weapon to school he/she will do it. The only way to really stop it is to put metal detectors at every entrance at every school in the nation. That won’t happen either.

  50. marion says:

    I agree with Steve. Professional discretion is what is called for in this case. Yes, Zachary needs to learn that he may not bring this utensil to school again but this is a ridiculously severe punishment for a mistake in judgement on the part of his parents.

  51. Bill says:

    The policy is what you need changed. I do agree with zero tolerance but some leeway needs to be placed in policy for small children with an innocent reason. Although there has been cases of children bringing weapons to school at 5 or 6 years old to hurt other children.

  52. Lisa says:

    This is an outrage. It could happen to you. What do we have to do to get Zachary’s “punishment” reversed? us/them, right/wrong — what happened to the problem? and working towards a solution?

  53. Bill G. says:

    News of the idiocy of the Newark Delaware school board has filtered down to Charlotte, NC. I think that we should all remove our hats and observe a moment of silence for the death of common sense in this country. This would be laugh out loud funny if it weren’t so frightening.

  54. Donviti says:

    That death happened a long time ago. I personally mourned when the last idiot in chief wanted to teach creationism alongside evolution.

    what’s going on now is more akin to ritualisitic sacrifice to appease the God’s.

  55. izzy says:

    I’m glad I don’t live in Delaware.

  56. Lynn says:

    Like all “rules” there should be exceptions to those children and/or parents who innocently give their children items to bring into school such as bringing in a knife to cut a cake and/or in this case bring in a camping tool to use for lunch… Is it honest to say that kids are given plastic knives to use to cut up lunch? So do we band plastic knives? I
    If someone wants to do something violent to someone else they will find a way to do it – knife, fork, spoon, lunch box… although maybe my view is over the top it still is realistic… A child can be sitting at lunch cutting up his sandwich with a knife his mother game him to use on the left over steak he had… totally innocent. Another kid whose mom gave him a spoon to eat his yogurt jabs his buddy sitting across from him because he called him a name… hey… it can happen.
    Give the kid a break!!

  57. Robert in Tulsa says:

    To me this is just another good reason to homeschool. This six year old was not aware that the simple action of bringing a “Scout camping tool” to school was not allowed. Come on all of you! Use common sense. If you were six years old would you not be proud of your status as a Cub Scout?

    Thank God the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma protects a parents right to homeschool. More and more parents are taken advantage of it.

  58. KW says:

    This case, this school board, this lack of intelligence and common sense, heck this entire blog….all more great reasons to recognize government schools for what they are and start homeschooling or sending your kid to good discerning private schools. If you want to continue to be a part of a system that caters to, enables, and continues to oppress the lowest common denominator then by all means…feel free to utilize government schools.

  59. Jason330 says:

    Homeschooling is great for parents who want their kid to win the Scriops Howard Spelling Bee.

  60. Rocki says:

    What’s funny about reading through this thread is listening to liberals that are now calling the rules that liberals (who run our federal education system) passed, stupid. Liberals always try to have both sides of an issue and become so incosisistant it is halarious!!!!!!! :)

    Yeah, let’s get God, prayer, and conservative values out of our schools!!!! Well, you’ve done that and still crime in schools is at an all time high.

    IT’S NOT THE UTENSILS!!!!! IT’S IN THE HEART THAT HAS CHANGED!!!!! And it’s the heart we have to change or nothing will ever get better.

    God Bless little Zachary who has to grow up in a world of stupid people….adults that act like spoiled children with no rules.

  61. Josh says:

    Im very dissapointed in the “Policy” that dosn’t allow those we have intrusted to teach our children the ability and opportunity to use discretion for these types of issue’s. I also want to apluad Mom for her diligence for her son and say Thank you for Zachary’s Karate teacher. If this where my boy or more directly my Grandson I would be petitioning the Governors office regarding the Appearent lack of understanding this community has in Governance. It may be the policy was written so The school cannot use common sense. But once they discover this they have responisbility to change it.
    GO ZACH!!
    JM

  62. KW says:

    Jason330:

    “According to a report published by the Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) and funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, homeschool student achievement test scores were exceptionally high. The median scores for every subtest at every grade were well above those of public and Catholic/private-school students. On average, homeschool students in grades one to four performed one grade level above their age-level public/private school peers on achievement tests. Students who had been homeschooled their entire academic life had higher scholastic achievement test scores than students who had also attended other educational programs.”

    And this from a GOVERNMENT STUDY!!!

  63. Jason330 says:

    They kick ass at spelling bees. I know that for a fact.

  64. KW says:

    LOL!!! I read that as sounding like some homeschool kid took you behind the woodshed at a spelling bee comp.

  65. Jason330 says:

    Is that a knife Rocki? Okay then.

  66. Jason330 says:

    Maybe.

  67. Jason330 says:

    Dear DL,

    How about a poll? Should kids be able to bring knives to school? Sounds like some people around here think that they should.

  68. Jeff says:

    The real PROBLEM here is that people need these POLICIES to know right from wrong. This is an open and shut case. No one is contestting that the child’s motives were innocent, and therefore so is he. Are we so buried in policies and protocols that we can no longer see truth for what it is?

  69. I feel so sorry for that child~~~he doesn’t even know what he did was wrong. When are the “powers that be” going to start using common sense?

  70. liberalgeek says:

    So how would you know the child’s intention? Could a child less cuddly than Zachary also have innocent motives, but get a different punishment?

    I am against zero-tolerance, but the reason for them is simple, they take these issues out of the court system when the little blonde-haired kid gets his wrist slapped and the brown kid in special ed gets expelled.

  71. Carol Deter says:

    What absurd thing will they think up next? Have they thought about confiscating pencils? Many a kid has a black mark under the skin where someone poked them with a pencil. What about checking the length of finger and toe nails? Or just fingers and feet (they could be used for pinching and kicking. Now I understand why the pants are falling down…they have taken away all the belts. I can think of no benefit in sending a 6 year old cub scout to reform school and think that maybe someone should consider sending the one who suggested it to jail. PLEASE lets get down to the basics of educating our children and acting as wise and good role models!

  72. OJ says:

    I read this story on the national wires and though I don’t live anywhere near Delaware. This school district is now the laughing stock of the nation. What has happened to common sense and evaluating the situation? How many six year olds have been stabbed in this district anyway? Perhaps it’s a big problem? Which is better for the kid – being around ‘criminal’ types in a reform/detention setting or learning? My guess is he’ll learn how to smoke pot and steal cars in reform school. Good job numbnut school administrators! Now wonder prisons are filled to the brim.

  73. Donviti says:

    Whoa buddy…this aint Kansas ok. Simmer down.

  74. Mark says:

    When I was this child’s age (ie I’m 59 now) I brought the same Boy Scout utility gadget to school to eat lunch and show my friends. If we did anything wrong the VP scared you death and you went back to class. If I were this child I would have the same fear he has, not about the punishment, but the teasing you get from the other children because of all the hoopla that’s been caused. These adults need to remember that time in their lives and use what little common sence it would take to communicate to his parents that he can’t bring this item to school. Of course you can always vote them out of office the next time around, that’s one tool left to parents who pay their salarys, less they forget.

  75. nemski says:

    The fact of the matter is that the school administration by law has to follow zero tolerance.

  76. You people have got to be kidding. I understand that a child has rules to follow and thats all good. We as a country have had alot of issues with our schools since all the shootings. Our children are paying a price for others choices and wrong doings. A six year old little boy is pay the price for ignorance of TEENS and ADULTS. That did the shootings! Then they are paying the price for the ADULT EDUCATORS that can not seem to get it together. I mean you guys make all the rules and still we have had problems in schools. From drinking, rape, drugs, shootings, and drop outs. Yet this will go on this childs record at school and will follow him for the rest of his life.Don’t think i remember hearing of a six year old drinking, raping, using drugs, dropping out of school or shooting someone. Unless it’s because an ADULT gives or gave what ever or which ever to he or she. You put so much home work on these little minds that it’s impossible for them to be a child in the first place. If you would pay more attention to the Middle and High Schools students. Put a stop to them and the things they do like smoking, drinking, drugs, shooting killing, rapping and the Harassment. That these older children do to our teachers and our small children then maybe you would get somewhere. You would think that the Adult Teacher or Principle, would have taken the item up from the young little boy and explained to him with his PARENTS present whay he could not have that kind of item at school. I mean hello peopple it’s still about TEACHING, for a child that young that small don’t you think as EDUCATORS it’s about GUIDANCE and LEARNING. I always thought they went hand and hand. I will say a prayer for you Zack if I may call you that and goodluck. Just remember school is always very important no matter how smart some Audults think they are they still lack common sense of GUIDANCE, TEACHING with the right DISCIPLINE. (1) The treatment suited to a disciple or learner; education; development of the faculties by instruction and exercise; training, whether physical, mental, or moral.(2) Training to act in accordance with established rules; accustoming to systematic and regular action; drill. [1913 Webster] Please make an effort to remember it’s all about teaching in all forms not just learning. We send our children to Schools and Educators and trust them to TEACH, GUIDE and DISCIPLINE but in that order. We want our small children to love shool and want to learn not hate it and not want to go because they are scared to attend.

  77. tonello says:

    A kid pulled a knife on me three years ago in sixth grade when we got into a fight (I won). He only got a day of in school suspension not expelled then sent to a juvenile school. The boy didn’t even use the utensil so I don’t know why someone would go through all this trouble. It’s probably not even a sharp knife, probably a butter knife. People are so asinine when it comes this stuff. A six year old for God’s sake.

  78. Perfect example of stupidity. Rules and policies that are handled in such a flat, one-size-fits-all way indicate nothing except that human beings are turning into robots.

    Whatever happened to common sense????

  79. Marine says:

    I’m amazed at the education system in this country, while it’s true that discipline is needed, we have high school graduates that can’t read, yet we worry about a cub scout bringing an utensil ( that’s all it is)to school.It seems to me that the teachers and all the school board members while highly “book” educated are probably the biggest morons running the show, and don’t even know what common sense is, it makes me regret fighting all over the world in the name of ” freedom”. Home school your kids if you really want them to learn, the schools are only interested in our tax money and will side with whomever promises them the most.” oh my wife and I work so we can’t homeschool” is what I hear most while their kids are learning all their bad behaviors from …yes school, that’s where I myself learned my first swear word and as I went up in grades it only got worse, the schools are hopeless they always have been, all these rules do is teach the kids new ways to get away with shit.

  80. John Young says:

    Jason, with all due respect, that is a terrible poll question.

    Why not ask a tougher question like: should 100K administrators be allowed to use judgment in discipline cases for 6 year olds?

  81. Jason says:

    I would like to think that the bone heads at that school would be alittle more understanding that the kid made a mistake by taking the tool to school. I mean he was just excited about being a new boy scout and didn’t know any better, I doubt that he took it to school with malicisous intent and if the staff at the school had half the sense god gave a grasshopper they would have handled it differently. Like maybe gee we should call this childs parent’s and inform them that they can come to school and pick up he new tool because he’s not allowed to have it here at school. That would’ve have been better than throwing the kid under the bus and now threating a stint in reform school. Parents,Teachers and Kids and most people of this world are Getting carried away with polices and rules and everything else and it’s turning this country into a bunch of milktoast WIMPS. When this type of press and attention comes about because a 1st grader took a boy scout tool to school and the school and the school officials acted the way the have only one thing can be said GET A LIFE !!!!!!!

  82. kelly feenin says:

    At 6 years old I took the same knife,fork, spoon to school… It was the greatest thing going for a kid my age…. there is nothing wrong w/ a child being proud of his accomplishments…. so called policy goes TOO far

  83. Tom S says:

    Well, the one man stated he didn’t want to notify parents that their child’s eyes were poked out because of a knife. Shall we then demand that pencils and pens be banned. Or how about fingers – they do a great job of poking out eyes. Might I also ask what do the kids use to eat their food at this school. Even a plastic utensil could be consider a dangerous weapon under these guidelines. It seems authorities are going to the extreme in chasing the mouse when there’s an elephant in the room nobody seems to care about these days. This is absolutely stupid. Sure there’s a reason for security but not to this ridiculous level. Tell the kid to take his new tool home and leave it there. Use good judgement in all cases. If you can’t decide – then get a job where you don’t have to make rational decisions.

  84. I can’t understand how a group of adults can expect students to use good judgment when they themselves display such a lack of judgment. You can’t make a blanket rule and expect it to be appropriate in every circumstance. When a rule becomes ridiculous only a fool tries to enforce it.

  85. Jim Nolen says:

    I remember when my Father gave me my first BBGun,I enjoyed it so much,know what,I never shot anyone with that gun.Then he gave me a 20 ga shotgun to hunt Pheasant with him and our friends,I never shot nor gave thought to hurting anyone.I was a scout,I had the scout knifs all of which were used for fun,never with intent to harm.This little Zachary had no intent of hurting anyone with this little scout knif yet we hurt him with our adult knowledge of all situations.We know so much about what we do,we cant stop and say are we doing the right thing? Are you doing the right thing?

  86. Luis says:

    This is a perfect example of people who after they are elected {appointed} to a petty office turn their brains off, just read rules and regulations and blindly follow what someone else wrote. I believe the entire school admin, and the school board should be FIRED for lack of common sense !!!!!

  87. Bangis VM says:

    I hope Zachary and his mom will continue to be strong. The boy’s sincerity, excitement for learning and his passion are at stake here. Zachary is only 6 years old! Please give this boy a break will you, let him enjoy his youthful years!

    To inforce or not to inforce is not the question…

  88. kyle regan says:

    wheres the common sence in this school? a bad judgement call on the administative schools part. its a shame for this boy.

  89. Henry Coppola says:

    Reform School for a 6 year old?, its way over the top.
    Perhaps taking the weapon?? away, notifying his parents
    and keeping him out of school for a week would be sufficient.
    Here’s a little boy who made a mistake, don’t make a criminal
    out of him.

  90. M. Bell says:

    There’s something drastically wrong with a system that has NO human intellect involved – meaning no understanding of circumstances. Without that we are but a nation run by “robots” – no critical thinking or common sense!
    I sincerely hope the Board provides a dimension of understanding and allows Zachary to continue learning in an environment that will foster his enthusiasm and innocence.
    My prayers for strength for the family to endure this craziness!

  91. loyd says:

    Where is this nation headed? The school employees who took this action, in my opinion, should be sanctioned. Whos knows what future impact this act by these ignorant people will have upon this young boy. Common sense, compassion, understanding, these concepts are disappearing from our cultural landscape, and we all will suffer as it continues to erode. Even where I work we have policies which prohibit pocket knives by employees, and if found with one, you could be terminated. Yet my workplace is filled with employer provided “weapons” (hammers, screwdrivers, razor knives, chemicals, etc.)if someone is so inclined to take such an action against their fellow employee.

  92. Dennis Lysy says:

    Well this is really a knee jerk response. The boy wasn’t even in school yet. The teacher should have asked Zachary for the knife and then went to the office and called his mother. Let’s use some common sense here. The only thing I would suggest is that his parents should talk with him and explain that he shouldn’t have taken it to school. This idea of him serving 45 days in reform school is ridiculous.

  93. Ina Wiser says:

    We had a similar situation with regard to spent shells my son had picked up at the shooting range, he wanted to have the brass. He was suspended for 10 days because of the zero tolerance rule. I agree with Dennis, they should have called his mother since he hadn’t been in school yet. There are better ways to handle this than the way they did.

  94. Caroline P says:

    Children are simply made to be children. If a mistake is made and this ends up costing a child their reputation and school record that could damage his/her future, then the strictness is indeed too srrict. It seems the rules are always made after a terible incident. The pendulum swings violently from one side to the next. Yes, rules are there to be followed and enforced, but even a judge has at their discretion the opportunity to lessen the severity of any punishment when the offender comes before the court. Schools and education boards should have the same opportunity.

  95. Beckie says:

    What ever happened to the teacher calling the parent(s) and saying, hey want to bring this to your attention, your son brought what we consider a weapon to school, please come pick it up and have a talk with your child concerning this. Then let it be that, now if a second encounter happens then yes, do something different. I pray for this whole situation to be resolved properly.

  96. chevy03 says:

    ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS WHAT IS THIS COUNTRY COMING TO?

  97. chevy03 says:

    I AM ASHAMED TO SAY THAT I LIVE IN A COUNTRY LIKE THIS. WE NEED TO TURN BACK TIME TO ABOUT 30 YEARS AGO AND PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE THE *****
    UP. COME ON, LETS BE REALISTIC? A FIRST GRADER?

  98. chevy03 says:

    What the hell happened to common sense in todays society? People please pause a momment and look at yourselves. Do you realize what sort of things are happening now a days? Political correctness, laws in our schools, babies having babies, etc etc etc
    What the hell has happened to common sense in this country? Oh that is right 99% of the people nowadays, dont have any………do u realize what sort of stupid laws and stuff we are allowing ourselves to do to eachother. Hurry 2012. haha

  99. schoolparent says:

    As a parent of 2 school age children, I absolutely do not want any child of any age bringing a knife to school. PERIOD. However the punishment in this case does seem unreasonable. I hope the school board decides to adjusted this discipline but not because he’s only 6 or because of a cute school picture. Which parent on this site wants to get a call from a school administrator saying that your child has been injured by a kid who came to school with a knife…..but no big deal because he’s on 6 & has a cute smile. Adjust the policy, but keep my kids safe.

  100. Susie says:

    I understand the schools policies, however they need to be looked at and amended to prevent turning things like this into what it has. This is the kind of “stupid rules” that turns good kids into bad kids. He will grow up thinking “I am a bad person”, and then he becomes a bad person/adult. They (the school and society with their “rules and policies) are creating a hostile environment. As the old poem “Children Learn What They Live”; “If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight”. They need to bring prayer, God etc back to schools. Having God and prayer in schools worked well for us and we (society) did not have near the issues as there are today with it not being present. We had a higher level of graduates, as opposed to today, where there is an increasing drop out level. Children who grow up with prayer and God in their life, tend to have a higher level of self respect. When they have a higher level of self respect, that turns to respect for others. When there is respect for others, there is less violence in the schools. Why does no one see this???

  101. Carrie says:

    I have no tolerance for such a perversion of a zero tolerance policy. Carrie- a retired Elementary Level School Guidance Counselor

  102. liberalgeek says:

    Here are some examples about elementary school children that have been less-than-innocent when it comes to bringing weapons to school. Let me guess, we want zero tolerance for these kids, right? How does one tell the difference between these kids and Zachary?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2000/03/07/60II/main168970.shtml

    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2008/02/6yearold_tries_to_stab_classma.html

    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/10/08/Boy-8-sought-over-school-stabbing/UPI-35051255033132/

  103. mike hicks says:

    I tell you what – when I grew up – if this happened – because of my age, and being a first grader, an intellegent clean acting kid, active in cub scouts – First off: the principal would have taken me into the office – and there he would have given me a firm talking to about the camping utensil – it has a knife blade included with the spoon & fork….. then he would have probably called my mom to pick up the knife and sent me back to class.
    I cannot believe the stupidity of some people in this world. This little boy had no idea that was going to break a school rule. I am sure. and the teachers & principle had to known that- The principal must be a real stupid. I cant believe how this world has become such a cruel place to raise our children. It is sad because they know the kid didnt bring it to school to kill someone !! Prayers to the family. God knows !

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