A Fox Chapel area student from the Pittsburgh region forgot that he had a knife on him when he attempted to attend a high school football game. He had been working on a hunting camp before he arrived, and forgot the pocket knife was still on him, until he saw signs prohibiting weapons. Being honest, he told a security guard, and turned it over. His reward for doing the right thing is a protracted legal battle with the school district over a zero tolerance policy prohibiting weapons at school, and at school events.
While it might make people feel secure to adopt policies like this in schools, it doesn't provide any lessons about the real world for students. If that student did the same thing as an adult, while attempting to enter a public building, like a courthouse, the response would not include any kind of punishment like this. As long as he was honest, did not attempt to harm anyone with knife, and turned it over willingly to the security officers present, at worst, he might have had to return at a later date to retrieve it. More likely, he would have to fill out some paperwork, leave the knife in the custody of the officers while he was in the building, and he could have picked it back up on the way out.
Zero tolerance policies are used in schools primarily to make citizens and administrators feel that they are doing something about the problems of drugs and violence in schools. Unfortunately, they do not mirror what happens in the real world, at least in cases like this. They also discourage students from building relationships of trust with authority figures - something that should occur during their school years, so that they can function more effectively in the real world as adults. Learning not to trust authority when one is young only leads to problems with respecting authority later. And when those students are older, they will probably also learn that zero tolerance policies are an excuse for school administrators to not do the job of examining each situation at face value. It's easier to suspend or expel the boy that honestly turned over a knife because that's what it says in a book of regulations, than it is to deal with the situation by examining what the boy's intent was in carrying the knife in the first place.
David Schaffner III will know his fate sometime soon at Fox Chapel High School, and his attorney, Phil Dilucente, will fight to keep Schaffner in school. The regulations in the school district do allow for the school administrator to use discretion when determining a punishment, if any. Dilucente pointed out that it would be in the best interest of all concerned to get Schaffner back into the classroom as soon as possible. If the school district chooses not to do that, not only will it be faced with a legal battle, but it may also be facing some issues in the court of public opinion. Honesty is not something that should be punished.