Controversy over school suspension

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) When students are in school and they see something, they are told to say something, but what if the right thing to do in turn gets you in trouble? That’s the reality for one Twin Falls family.

“Fourth period was PE so I went into the locker room and I grabbed my shorts out of my bag and that’s when I saw the knife,” said Joseph McDrummond.

"Our policy is a no weapons policy. So weapons cannot come into school at all,” said Twin Falls School District Public Information Officer Eva Craner said.

Knowing the policy, he brought the backpack with the knife inside directly to his gym teacher.

“I was sitting in the office and then I talked to the associate principal and he said because of the length of the knife, I was getting suspended and waiting for an expulsion hearing,” Joseph said.

His father wanted the truth from his son. Like any parent he was willing to fight for his son's rights, but only if his son was being honest and wasn’t intentionally breaking the law.

"So I asked him. I said, 'Hey, what were you thinking? Why did you have the knife with you?' He said, 'Dad, I didn't know it was in there,'” said Joseph’s father Stacy McDrummond.

“We know mistakes happen, so if a student realizes they made a mistake it’s best to immediately go to their teacher, the office, go to the SRO (school resource officer) and make sure they’re aware,” Eva said.

Regardless of doing the right thing, disciplinary action had to be taken even if it felt like a catch 22.

“The policy is based on law and the law is very strict. It is absolutely not it doesn’t matter the circumstances that student shall be expelled,” Eva said.

Immediately after the incident, Joseph was suspended from school. The McDrummond family received a letter from the school in the mail stating that Joseph is to remain at home until his hearing which is slated for either the 23rd or 26th of October. Until then, he will have to pick up his school work and do it from home. If after the hearing his expulsion is for an extended amount of time, the family will have to look into alternative schooling such as an online program. Expulsion usually is regarded as being kicked out of school and never allowed back in. But in this case once the school board hearing commences a length of expulsion is determined, which can range from anywhere to one day, to months, to a year or being asked to never return.

“I’m behind the rules, 100 percent I get it, and I agree with them,” Stacey said, adding safety of students should never be overlooked.

“Of course the time that the student shall be expelled depends on the circumstances. That’s where we do have a little bit of a leeway. But other than that it is zero tolerance,” Eva said.

What lessons can be taught from Joseph’s mishap though and is there any change possible in the future?

“It was an accident. If it wasn’t an accident, then I get it totally. But you can’t have a kid do something right and then turn around and they’re in trouble for it,” Stacy said.

“It’s very serious bringing a weapon to school. Even without having bad intentions is against the rules, and it’s against the law,” Eva said.

The district's complete weapons policy can be found on their website and clips from it pertaining to this case are included with this article.

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