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October 14, 2009

More Zero Tolerance-Nanny State Follies UPDATE: West Point Administrator Reacts

A kid has a pocket knife with a two inch blade for car emergencies, locked away in his car and idiotic school administrators suspend him for 20 days.

Oh yeah, he's in the National Guard, so you know, it's not like the pocket knife (in his car) is the heaviest 'weapon' he's ever dealt with. He's also an Eagle Scout who wants to go to West Point and this may very well kill that chance.

Whalen was suspended from Lansingburgh High School last month after administrators found the 11/2-inch key-chain knife in his glove compartment, an infraction of the district's zero-tolerance policy for weapons on school grounds. It was a gift from his grandfather, Robert Whalen, chief of the Hoosick Falls Police Department.

Now, Whalen is concerned the school's 20-day suspension may hurt his chances of gaining admission to West Point, a dream of his since he brought in his grandfather's medals from Vietnam for show-and-tell in first grade.

"I just want to be able to go back to school," Whalen said. "I didn't intentionally do anything wrong. I don't even consider it a weapon."

...District Superintendent George J. Goodwin said Tuesday that he thinks the punishment was "appropriate and fair." He said the district has to equally enforce its zero-tolerance policy, even for students like Whalen who don't have any past record of misbehavior.

"Sometimes young people do things they may not see as serious," Goodwin said. "We look at any possession of any type of knife as serious."

And sometimes there are serious consequences for young people when foolish adults get put into positions of authority for which they are ill suited.

Whalen sounds like the kind of kid that schools dream of having and yet thanks to an idiotic policy and small minded adults, an accomplished young man is being punished.

At some point we really need to take back the power we've given these petty apparatchiks.

A little wisdom from Mr. Whallen

"In the past 200 years, America's gotten by just fine without zero tolerance," he said. "Why do New York state schools have to have it?"

If the West Point thing doesn work out maybe the kid should be given the job of Lansingburgh Central School District Superintendent.

Just a thought.

UPDATE: West Point Director of Admissions says it's not the end of the world but it doesn't help.

On Wednesday, West Point's director of admissions told Foxnews.com that Whalen's suspension alone wouldn't be a "show-stopper" and "didn't appear to be a big issue" for the youth, though it will appear on his record as the military academy considers his moral and ethical fiber.

"My concern would be, how does this impact on his academics?" said Col. Deborah McDonald, the academy's head of admissions. "Because 20 (school) days is a long time to be suspended."

My guess would be the Eagle Scout and National Guard service will cover the "moral and ethical fiber" issue but the grades could still be a problem.

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posted by DrewM. at 03:00 PM

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