By William R. Toler
A Tennessee high school student has been suspended and faces criminal charges for a mistake made by his father.
David Duren-Sanner, a senior at Northeast High School in Clarksville, received a 10-day suspension after a knife was found in the car he drove to school. His father’s car…his father’s knife.
The car was randomly selected during a random vehicle check on campus. “I didn’t have anything to hide,” Duren-Sanner told WTVF. He says he told investigators they might find snuff in the car, since his dad dips tobacco.
Instead they found a knife his father uses in his job as a commercial fisherman.
Because of the zero-tolerance policy, the student faces a charge of having a weapon on school grounds, according to a petition set up on his behalf.
If the punishment is upheld, he will have to attend an alternative school for 90 days following the suspension. He will not be able to attend prom, the JROTC ball or graduation.
I can relate to this kid, although when I was coming up, we didn’t have to deal with draconion “zero tolerance” policies.
In high school, I was called out of class during a parking lot check. (The officers were most likely looking for marijuana.) Like Duren-Sanner, I was young and ignorant and consented to a search beacuse I had nothing to hide.
I was told that the K-9 had “alerted” to my Blazer. I couldn’t figure out why, I didn’t even smoke cigarettes at the time. (I still joke that it was because a tin of flavored popcorn had spilled in the back.) It turns out, I had left my multi-tool in the back following a camping trip, and the knife blade was exposed.
My tool was taken by deputies and handed over to the principal. All I had to do to get it back was to have my dad come to the school and pick it up, which he was not very happy about. He wasn’t mad at me, but at the abusrdity of the situation. Rules were much more lax when he came up in the 70s.
If it were to happen today, I would’ve likely been cuffed and arrested on the spot.
Zero tolerance polices leave no room for common sense to be used on a case by case basis as reason would dictate. Intentions don’t matter, only the strict letter of the law.
A simple mistake, though causing no harm to anyone, can lead to a criminal record and a blight on school records.
The best solution to keep something like this from happening is to home school. But that isn’t always possible. The next would be to abolish zero tolerance policies in schools and return to common sense.
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