Sunday, April 07, 2002

Sixth Grader Might be Expelled for Bringing a Knife to School

News 3 reported that a Madison, Wisconsin sixth grader faces expulsion from his school for bringing a knife.The kid claims he needed it for his science project -- i.e., to cut onions. But the school believes that it should enforce the "Zero Tolerance Rule " for weapons in school.

Chris Schimdt

The report states that Chris Schmidt is a straight-A sixth-grader. He loves school, music and sports, and went to the nation's Capitol as a member of the School Safety Patrol. However, the report said his background is irrelevant for the offense that he has committed. Ms. Valencia Douglas, assistant school superintendent says "We can't say, 'You're a good kid, so your mistake doesn't have as much force, or importance behind it as a kid with other issues,'"

The slant in the news report (full text here) seems to make it appear that the school is being unreasonable. Yet, it is quite possible that the kid intended to threaten somebody with the knife or just brought it for show. With kids these days, you'll never know.

Analyzing the issue further, however, it seems that the problem really is with the rule and not with its application -- assuming there is no other fact but for act of bringing the knife to school. The rule infers criminal intent just by the act of bringing any weapon or weapon-like utensil and punishes the act with a severe penalty. If the school insists on the strict application of its rule, this may be a potential case for violation of the constitutional right to "due process" on account of unreasonableness of the law.

No comments: