News organizations across the U.S. report on an almost daily basis of the rampant overreaction by school administrators to ‘weapons’ on campus. Sometimes, however, the punitive damage to students in violation of these draconian rules causes a heightened public outcry.
Such was apparently the case for a Tennessee honors student in the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System.
When 18-year-old David Duren-Sanner drove his father’s vehicle to school recently, he claims he had no idea the commercial fisherman had left a knife in the car. His defense seems to have fallen on deaf ears, considering the fact that he now faces a 10-day suspension and possible transfer to an alternative school after administrators found the fishing tool.
The car was the subject of a random search, during which school staff discovered the knife and handed down the strict punishment.
According to his grandmother, the student is “pretty devastated,” explaining the he never knew the knife was in the car and “never, ever, ever had a knife in his possession.”
To those tasked with enforcing absurd zero-tolerance rules regarding weapons, however, excuses – even legitimate ones – are of no use. The family is planning to appeal the decision; however, the school district is showing no initial signs of retreating from the decision.
Meanwhile, a change.org petition is under way in an effort to garner support for the prospective marine biologist. Obviously, a weapons charge on his record would not help him as he prepares for college.
Making matters worse, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department is also pursuing weapons charges against the student.
Few would argue against strict security measures within schools that, unfortunately, are too often affected by violence. These rules, however, cannot be so rigid that common sense is excluded from the process.
By all accounts, Duren-Sanner is a model student who happened to inadvertently drive a car containing a knife to school. He did not bring it with him on his person, and no one is suggesting he ever exhibited any intention of using it.
Nevertheless, his entire future is now being threatened by what many consider a case in which the punishment does not fit the supposed crime.
–B. Christopher Agee
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Photo Credit: The U.S. National Archives