Cub Scout: Utensil Suspension Unfair

A 6-year-old Cub Scout recently suspended from school after bringing a camping utensil to the lunchroom made it clear he was not happy with the Delaware school district's decision.

"I think it's very wrong. It's not fair at all," Zachary Christie of Newark, Del. told CBS' "The Early Show."

"It's not fair for anybody," he said.

Zachary's excitement over joining the Cub Scouts may just land him in reform school for 45 days.

Zachary was suspended from his 1st grade class in Delaware's Christina School District after bringing a camping utensil - a combination knife/fork/spoon - to use at lunch, prompting calls to reexamine schools' zero-tolerance policy for bringing weapons to school.

Asked why he brought it to school, Zachary said he just wanted to eat lunch with the tool. "It's just a cool camping utensil," he said.

(CBS)
Zachary's mother, Debbie Christie, who is co-president of the PTA at her son's school, said she did not know Zachary brought the camping utensil (seen at left) to school, but disagrees with the suspension, saying her son willingly gave the utensil to a teacher when asked.

"He wasn't waving it around," Debbie Christie told "The Early Show." "He told her (teacher) that he was taking it to lunch."

Zero tolerance policies were instituted in many school districts across the country, at least in part due to violence at Columbine and Virginia Tech, the report notes. Their rigid enforcement is designed to eliminate the appearance of bias or discrimination on the part of school officials.

State Representative Teresa L. Schooley wrote the disciplinary committee, asking each member to "consider the situation, get all the facts, find out about Zach and his family and then act with common sense for the well-being of this child."

But the strict enforcement of the policy has its supporters.

"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 school district board's president.

There has been a move to give school officials more flexibility in "weapon"-related incidents. After a third-grade girl was expelled for a year after bringing in a knife to cut the birthday cake her grandmother sent in to the class, a new law was passed allowing officials to modify punishments on a case-by-case basis. But that was for expulsions, not suspensions as Zachary is faced with. Another revision to the law is being drafted to address suspensions, according to the report.

For now, Zachary will be taught at home, which he says he likes, but misses his friends at school.

"I don't think the punishment should be this bad."

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