Saturday, November 21, 2009

HIP sidetrack - Zero Tolerance

In a slight digression, I pass on the story of an Eagle Scout and some truly stupid administrators. I can't decide whether I consider these idiots "Ineffective" because they will forever misunderstand the true meaning of discipline, perspective and working with and teaching students or if they are "Effective" in their rigid adherence to regulation.

I can remember when hunting season meant that an occasional student would hunt before school and then walk to school. He'd have to store his shotgun in the office (in my experience) but some older teachers recall kids just putting them in their lockers. Certainly, any kid lucky enough to drive to school simply left it on the rack in the truck. No one thought much of it.

Intent should come into play here. Walk in with a Bowie knife and brandish it in the face of someone you're shouting at -- that's serious. Walk in with a baseball bat and do the same thing -- that's serious. Walk in with a new baseball bat to show it to the coach who's also your history teacher -- who cares?

So we have this ...

Story reprinted here because it will disappear there:
LANSINGBURGH -- Matthew Whalen's suspension will stand.

On Wednesday night, the Lansingburgh Central School District board of education rejected Whalen's appeal of the punishment and decided not to expunge the blemish on the record of the Eagle Scout suspended for having a pocketknife in his car while the vehicle was on the grounds of Lansingburgh High School.

Whalen received a 20-day suspension in September after he turned over to school administrators a 1 1/2-inch knife that he kept in his glove box as part of a car survival kit. He returned to school in October.

Whalen has said he does not know how school officials learned he had a pocketknife in his car, but suspects another student may have tipped off administrators in an attempt to pull a prank on him.

School officials, who did not respond to requests for comment, have said Whalen violated the school district's zero-tolerance policy because he brought a weapon on to school grounds and that the suspension was an appropriate response. The case raised national furor when Whalen went on two separate national Fox News programs to discuss the penalty. He worried that the action could hurt his chances of getting into West Point.

He said he never realized the school considered the keychain knife a weapon. He said his grandfather Robert Whalen -- who recently retired as police chief of the Hoosic Falls Police Department -- gave him the folding knife to use in his car after they used it to cut wires while installing a car radio.

Whalen was given a Lifesaving Heroism Award by the Boy Scouts of America at age 13 after he performed CPR on his aunt, saving her life. He said he carries water bottles, a sleeping bag and a change of clothes in his 1999 Mercury Sable in case it breaks down. He considered the key-chain knife part of that preparedness kit.

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