A couple of students from Eagan and Apple Valley have been expelled from school, because they bought souvenir samurai swords while on a spring-break choir trip to the UK, thus violating, apparently, the rule against buying samurai swords on spring break trips.
“The severity of the punishment didn’t fit the crime here,” Brad Briggs the father of one of the expelled teens, told the school board the other night according to the Pioneer Press.
The other student — a she — had bought a Lord of the Rings replica sword for her father for Father’s Day.
The expelled student is a Boy Scout, Sunday school teacher, and member of the choir and while it’s not out of the question that a Boy Scouting , Sunday school teaching singer could inflict some harm with a sword all duct-taped up in a cardboard box, where exactly is the threat that justifies an expulsion?
“Schools are in a real Catch-22,” said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. He cited a case of a popular student who brought a toy gun to school when he was the boss in Northfield. He had to expel him. He said another student was expelled for bringing “a big knife” to school.
The kids who’ve been expelled didn’t bring anything to school; they bought something while on a class trip. A chaperone confiscated the swords in the UK and they never made it to the New World. The administrators say they had to protect the other kids and the board cited the district’s student policy. Here’s the rules and policies section of the district’s Web site.
Perhaps there’s more to the story that “confidentiality” is preventing from being discussed. According to the policy, had the students been found in “possession of bullets, other projectiles designed to be used in a weapon or other material designed to cause pain or injury,” the punishment is a 5-day suspension for the first offense and expulsion on the second offense. In that school district, you get a 3-day suspension for actually inflicting bodily harm, and that’s only after the second time you do it.
What do you think? We expect our schools to protect students. Is this appropriate punishment or overreaction?