By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press Writer Ben Nuckols, Associated Press Writer
BEAR, Del. – A Delaware first-grader who was facing 45 days in an alternative school as punishment for taking his favorite camping utensil to school can return to class after the school board made a hasty change granting him a reprieve….
Zachary Christie, 6, had faced 45 days in an alternative school for troublemakers after he took the utensil — a combination folding knife, fork and spoon — to school to eat lunch last month….
The punishment given to Zachary was one of several in recent years that have prompted national debate on whether schools have gone too far with zero-tolerance policies.
It was not the first such case in the Christina School District, Delaware’s largest with more than 17,000 students, which includes parts of the city of Wilmington and its suburbs. Last year, a fifth-grade girl was ordered expelled after she brought a birthday cake to school and a serrated knife to cut it with….
School board member John Mackenzie told The Associated Press before the meeting that he was surprised school officials did not use common sense and disregard the policy in Zachary’s case. The need for common sense to prevail over the letter of the law was a recurring theme among the boy’s supporters and school safety experts….
Not everyone believed the school district was out of line.
Jill Kneisley, who runs the special education programs at Jennie Smith Elementary in Newark, said schools need to be vigilant about protecting students. If Zachary or another student had been hurt by the knife, she said, the district would have taken the blame.
“If we can’t punish him, then what about kids that did bring (a weapon) for bad things?” Kneisley said. “There’s more to the school’s side than just us being mean and not taking this child’s interests into account.”
Sure there is. The school’s intolerance is not driven by meanness or disdain for the children. It is driven by fear.
Remind you of anything? I’m sorry, I can’t help it. But legalism, whether found in the school district, the Office of Homeland Security or the local church, is always motivated by fear. It requires that we suspend common sense and put our minds on hold for supposedly higher ideals. And the end result is invariably self defeating. Fear is always intolerant. Fear speaks in absolute terms – everything is either black or white, good or bad. There are no areas in between worth considering. Fear is what drives those who commit senseless acts of violence because fear always drives out love.