Story Archive

Zero Common Sense

Matthew Whalen, 17, a senior at Lansingburgh (N.Y.) High School, is an honors student, an Eagle Scout, and wants to attend the U.S. military academy at West Point. He has already completed an Army basic training course and serves in the National Guard, and was given an award for saving a life. When school officials interrogated him about a report that he “carries a knife,” he said the only knife he has is one with a 1-1/2" blade in a survival pack in his car. “They asked me to show it to them,” Whalen said. “I didn’t realize it was going to be a problem. I knew it wasn’t illegal — my police chief grandfather gave the knife to me.” His car was in the school’s parking lot, and “the principal even admitted that I had no intent to use the knife, that I had no accessibility to the knife,” but he was still suspended for “possession” of a “weapon” on campus per the school’s zero tolerance policy. The school also called police, but officers refused to press charges. After a district superintendent review of the 5-day suspension, it was boosted to 20 days. “He’s lucky that he didn’t have a bayonet in the car,” said his police chief grandfather. “He’s a National Guardsman for God’s sake.” (RC/Troy Record) ...How will kids ever learn to think when school officials can’t master doing it themselves?
Original Publication Date: 01 November 2009
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 16.

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