After initially suspending a Delaware first grader and requiring him to spend 45 days at an alternative school, for having brought a camping knife to school in order to eat his lunch with the knife's fork and spoon, the school has re-evaluated its position. Now he will be suspended for three to five days and undergo counseling.
The original punishment reflected the school's zero-tolerance policy for students who come to school with weapons of any kind. The revised policy came about after widespread media attention prompted the school to decide that a child's "cognitive level" should be considered in determining punishment in such cases.
Given the student's age and innocent intent, was the school right to alter its stance? Or is the zero-tolerance policy best, given that the camping knife could still have caused serious harm?Post your thoughts here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name, hometown, and state, province, or country. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column. Or e-mail your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.
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