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Just when public schools seemed about to stop going insane with their recent rash of zero tolerance policies, a Massachusetts school had to throw itself into the fray. The standards for insane zero tolerance policies are, admittedly quite high. In the past couple of months we’ve seen kids, some as young as five years old, suspended, expelled, or otherwise disciplined for throwing an imaginary grenade; discussing a pink,”Hello Kitty” bubble gun; assembling a Lego gun; using fingers as a gun; chewing a Pop Tart into a gun shape; or bringing in photos of guns.
Recognizing stiff competition when it saw it, Wamsutta Middle School, in Attleboro, Massachusetts, decided to skip the guns altogether and go after knives – butter knives. Yes, a Middle School student was suspended because she used a butter knife to slice fruit into small pieces to accommodate her braces. MyFoxBoston.com reports that “the vice principal happened to be walking by when he apparently saw Morgan with the butter knife, took her to his office, and issued her a suspension.”
No one among us will disagree that students shouldn’t bring lethal weapons onto campus, and knives certainly can be used lethally. Nor would we expect school rules to spell out in excruciating detail each type of knife that can or cannot be brought to school. But, come on! Are school administrators really such mindless, bureaucratic drones that they’re incapable of distinguishing between a lethal weapon and a cooking implement being put to a benign use?
Our kids aren’t learning that their schools are safe places. They’re learning that, way too often, the people in charge of the schools are crazy.