NEWARK, Del. — Finding character witnesses when you are 6 years old is not easy. But there was Zachary Christie last week at a school disciplinary committee hearing with his karate instructor and his mother’s fiancé by his side to vouch for him.
Zachary’s offense? Taking a Cub Scout utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about joining the Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school...
Forty-five days of reform school? He's a 6-year-old boy who behaved like a normal 6-year-old child.
The school board president defends the disciplinary decision, but says the rules might be adjusted:
[B]ased on the code of conduct for the Christina School District, where Zachary is a first grader, school officials had no choice. They had to suspend him because, “regardless of possessor’s intent,” knives are banned.
“There is no parent who wants to get a phone call where they hear that their child no longer has two good seeing eyes because there was a scuffle and someone pulled out a knife,” said George Evans, the president of the Christina district’s school board. He defended the decision, but added that the board might adjust the rules when it comes to younger children like Zachary.
If I were school board president, I would say the following: We didn't anticipate a situation like this when we enacted the code of conduct. Obviously we need to change the rules, giving teachers and administrators greater enforcement discretion, so that we won't do something harmful to this child or any other child.
If you wish to politely encourage the Newark board of education members to change their policies, contact information can be found here.