Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Principal Genius

How long must we endure these stories, how long must we severely impact the lives of good, decent kids, before we finally put an end to this kind of crap?

An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.

Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.

Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.

“She got pulled into it. She doesn’t have to be a bad person to be searched,” Smithwick’s father, Joe Smithwick, said.

The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.

“It’s just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple,” he said.

Ashley Smithwick said she had never gotten in trouble before and was surprised when the principal opened her lunchbox and found the knife.

The teen was initially given a 10-day suspension, then received notice that she was suspended the rest of the school year.

"I don’t understand why they would even begin to point the finger at me and use me as an example," she said.

This month, Ashley Smithwick, a soccer player who takes college-level courses, was charged with misdemeanor possession of a weapon on school grounds. She is no longer allowed to set foot on campus.

As someone who's entrusted with over 150 kids a day, I'm embarrassed that others in my profession behave this way. It's shameful--yet I, and not the perpetrators, am the one feeling the shame.


maxutils said...

I'm almost always with you on these cases, but paring knives can be weapons as well as apple cutters. Were it a table knife, yeah, completely insipid. Still, way too harsh a punishment for the crime.

EdD said...

What this young lady needs is a pit
bull lawyer who will point out the liability incurred by the school district as well as the personal liability incurred by the principal.
My experience has been that school district administrators are a lot more cooperative when faced with the prospect of prolonged litigation and its attendant costs. If her father does a little asking around, he may find a lawyer who will take the case pro bono.

PeggyU said...

When my uncle was teaching a shop class (many years ago), one student stabbed another student with a screwdriver. Apparently, they had had an altercation before class, and the attacker used what he could find at hand in order to get even.

Pencils, pens, scissors, shop tools ... and probably many other objects I haven't thought of ... can serve as weapons if a person is intent on harming someone else. Given the history of the student with the paring knife, I think this was a stupid over reaction on the part of this school's administration.

Rhymes With Right said...

As i noted several years ago, and <a href=">reiterated today</a>:

<blockquote>[I]n the interest of making sure that no parent complains that their child has been discriminated against after their child starts hacking up classmates with a samurai sword, possession of anything that bears a vague resemblance to a dangerous weapon (including a harmless kitchen utensil) must be banned and harshly punished.</blockquote>

Anonymous said...

being from TX originally I carried a pocket knife to school from the fourth grade on. Every boy did. How else would we pry the pecans out of their shells at recess.

I still don't feel dressed without a small swiss army knife. My wife constantly asks for the scissors.

And yes, I still carry it to school, but I call it a piece of science equipment.


Ellen K said...

A friend of mine's son was similarly penalized for the horrible offense of playing basketball on an outside court after the eleven pm curfew. Because he was in all AP course, the district, who in their zeal sought to make him an example, had to hire three college level teachers to instruct him in Calculus, AP Chemistry and AP Physics. All the kid got from it was the idea that the district was run by mindless drones unwilling to make a decision. This is the same district who when some cheerleaders attacked and brutally beat a girl for the sin of sleeping with one of their boyfriends, only penalized the girls by kicking them off the cheerleading squad. It seems that their parents thought alternative settings would ruin them for life. My friend's son graduated summa cum laude with double majors in Chinese and Medical technology. The girls in the meantime are working through various lifetime passages like first divorces and drug rehab. Go figure.