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  1. #1
    Liz's Avatar
    Liz is offline I am not a chemist and this is not my 1st rodeo
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    NY Honor Roll Senior suspended for pocket knife in locked car

    Soldier suspended from school
    Posted: Oct 8, 2009 02:26 PM PDT

    LANSINGBURGH -- High school senior Matthew Whalen is the kind of student any parent would want.

    He's an Eagle Scout, on the honor roll, taking Advanced Placement classes, and never been in trouble with the law. He's received commendations from the City of Troy and the Boy Scouts of America for saving a woman's life, and this past summer, he completed Army basic training. All of it was accomplished before the age of 17.

    "I'm just trying to do what I can while I can," Matthew says.

    His goal is to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a dream since he was in grade school.

    But the dream could be in jeopardy, thanks to a two-inch pocket knife that officials at Lansingburgh Senior High School found in Matthew's locked car last month. The pocket knife was a gift from his grandfather, Robert Whalen, who's the Hoosick Falls Police Chief. Matthew says he kept the knife in a side compartment and never tried showing it off or threatening anyone with it. Instead it was a part of the survival kit that was his car. --> more

    http://www.wten.com/global/story.asp?s=11283345

    The school originally suspended Matthew for five days. But after a hearing, the school superintendent, George Goodwin, decided to suspend him for an additional 15 days. I think this is excessive punishment for this upstanding young man; and goes to show a lack of common sense in judgement.

    Of course, after hearing about the little boy with the cub scout camping utensils in the lunch room being sent to reform school for 45 days, I guess Matthew is fortunate.

    I wonder if the schools in NY allow baseball bats for softball. Or if the high school student who drive to school are required to remove their tire irons from their vehicles?

    IMO, punishment in both Matthew's case and the little elementary school boy's case are beyond ridiculous. But that's just me.

    I emailed the superintendent at the contact link in the url below. I think this punishment is so excessive, I may even contact the governor of NY.


    George Goodwin, Superintendent, District Office
    Lansingburgh School District
    Last edited by Liz; 10-14-2009 at 03:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    What happened that this school was searching the kid's locked car? Maybe someone was jealous of him or wanted retaliation against the police chief grandpa and set him up. Everyone should have a survival kit in their vehicle, even an almost grown boy driving himself around. He sounds really smart to have this in his car (just in case), and may have told people about his bug out kit.
    Last edited by txsvicki; 10-13-2009 at 10:06 PM.

  3. #3
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    Oh look - more Zero Tolerance stupidity. Maybe this type of ignorance goes in waves. My disgust for the the concept of Zero Tolerance knows no bounds. I want to spank whatever power that be coined ZT in our schools - and all of us parents for allowing it to take hold and not laughing it out of existence.

    MOO, of course.
    I do not intend to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death!

  4. #4
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    I want to know, too, how do you search a "locked car"?

  5. #5
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    Not even touching this one.

  6. #6
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    Liz, the link to the school district doesn't seem to include any means of sending an email. Lots of school districts seem to be doing that, we realized recently we cannot email our son's Middle School about anything! They seem to seal themselves off from parents.
    I agree this is an outrage, I also think someone had it in for this kid, probably some classmate that hated him for being an achiever. The principal gives him an additional 15 days?? This isn't even my kid and I'm mad as hell.
    'Never stop fighting..never give up'

    Kevin Kostner as Eliott Ness in 'The Untouchables'

  7. #7
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    When I attended high school (1970s) in northern Minnesota during hunting season the boys had hunting rifles in their cars and pickups to hunt after school and could get excused days off to hunt. True.

    Can't the principal use his own judgment? Not every student is a whack job out to hurt someone.

  8. #8
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    how did they know there was a pocketknife in his car? it sounds like someone who knew it would be there reported it. these zero tolerance rules are being abused, someone could easily take out their "college competition" by reporting them for something ridiculous.
    the young man never was arrested, already finished basic training in the army, and was by all means a model citizen.
    zero tolerance policies are sure showing a lot more trouble than good when they get these good kids in trouble for something that would not have been glanced at twice 10 years ago!

  9. #9
    So there's a chance that I can understand the schools punishment. My school was strick about what could be in vehicles that were on school grounds. However, I don't get why the punishment was increased. It went from a bold punishment, to a crazy punishment. I'd think that with a hearing you'd have time to put some common sense into the decision.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by oh_gal View Post
    Not even touching this one.

    Poor gal! Did we traumatize you on the other thread!?

    My view won't be incredibly popular, I am quite sure. In my mind, this situation differs completely from the little six year old's situation. That child brought a utensil to school never imagining it would be considered as a weapon.

    This senior (smart, good kid from what I've read) KNOWS that his knife is a weapon. I am assuming that he knows that the rules forbid students from having weapons or drugs on school property; I know our district makes kids sign a "contract" every year in which the district/federal rules are well documented. I think it would be virtually impossible for a smart senior to NOT KNOW that a knife is a weapon and that it cannot enter school property, even IF the school does not offer contracts outlining rules.

    It is clear that the student had no intentions to use the weapon at school, it is clear that the knife was locked into his vehicle on school property, it is clear that breaks the rules about having weapons on school property and the article says the student gave permission for officials to search his car so the search was legal. This situation is exactly why zero tolerance policies were put into effect. To sum it up, he was discovered to be in violation of a major school policy. And, unlike the six year old, he can't say "I didn't know this would be considered a weapon!"

    He does not, in my mind at least, have the right to now complain that he is being punished for knowingly breaking school policy. He DOES have the right to ask for a lenient punishment, based on his excellent social and academic record at the school.

    Having said all of that, I still don't like zero tolerance policies and I find them too vague and open-ended, too rigid and thoughtless to be effective deterrents---Our society has always had tolerance for others, taking into consideration "mitigating" circumstances, and I believe school policies cannot succeed without tolerance.

    I hope this young man succeeds in everything he wants to do; he sounds like a really good boy.
    Last edited by kgeaux; 10-14-2009 at 02:28 PM.


  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=kgeaux;4286840]Poor gal! Did we traumatize you on the other thread!?

    (respectfully snipped by me)

    Well, let's just say I was pretty happy to hear that he wouldn't be getting that 45 day suspension.
    Last edited by oh_gal; 10-14-2009 at 03:27 PM. Reason: computer going haywire.......

  12. #12
    Liz's Avatar
    Liz is offline I am not a chemist and this is not my 1st rodeo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snick1946 View Post
    Liz, the link to the school district doesn't seem to include any means of sending an email. Lots of school districts seem to be doing that, we realized recently we cannot email our son's Middle School about anything! They seem to seal themselves off from parents.
    I agree this is an outrage, I also think someone had it in for this kid, probably some classmate that hated him for being an achiever. The principal gives him an additional 15 days?? This isn't even my kid and I'm mad as hell.
    Hi Snick -

    If I understand correctly, the school suspended him for 5 days; then the superintendent imposed the 15 additional days.

    There is a contact link all the way down at the bottom of the page. Here's the cut and paste:

    2009 NewYorkSchools.com™ - All Rights Reserved. Data on this site are composed from various government and commercial sources.
    NewYorkSchools.com do not guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information on this site. Use at your own risk.
    Resources • NY Colleges • Link to Us • About Us • Contact Us


    Hope that helps!

    I agree that some classmate had it in for him, obviously. Apparently this person reported that Matthew had the knife on his person, which turned out not to be the case. Somehow that led to him showing him his knife in his vehicle.

    Seems like the schools ought to focus on the problem students; instead of the model students.

  13. #13
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    I agree, but do feel that school admin. have their heads imbedded lately. They really need to THINK. This is a good kid, a good record, and if it has been shown that this was part of a survival kit, then I think that the school should have used common sense. I think the superintendent tacking on an additional 15 days is out of line, however.
    Quote Originally Posted by kgeaux View Post
    Poor gal! Did we traumatize you on the other thread!?

    My view won't be incredibly popular, I am quite sure. In my mind, this situation differs completely from the little six year old's situation. That child brought a utensil to school never imagining it would be considered as a weapon.

    This senior (smart, good kid from what I've read) KNOWS that his knife is a weapon. I am assuming that he knows that the rules forbid students from having weapons or drugs on school property; I know our district makes kids sign a "contract" every year in which the district/federal rules are well documented. I think it would be virtually impossible for a smart senior to NOT KNOW that a knife is a weapon and that it cannot enter school property, even IF the school does not offer contracts outlining rules.

    It is clear that the student had no intentions to use the weapon at school, it is clear that the knife was locked into his vehicle on school property, it is clear that breaks the rules about having weapons on school property and the article says the student gave permission for officials to search his car so the search was legal. This situation is exactly why zero tolerance policies were put into effect. To sum it up, he was discovered to be in violation of a major school policy. And, unlike the six year old, he can't say "I didn't know this would be considered a weapon!"

    He does not, in my mind at least, have the right to now complain that he is being punished for knowingly breaking school policy. He DOES have the right to ask for a lenient punishment, based on his excellent social and academic record at the school.

    Having said all of that, I still don't like zero tolerance policies and I find them too vague and open-ended, too rigid and thoughtless to be effective deterrents---Our society has always had tolerance for others, taking into consideration "mitigating" circumstances, and I believe school policies cannot succeed without tolerance.

    I hope this young man succeeds in everything he wants to do; he sounds like a really good boy.

  14. #14
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    Liz, thanks. I just sent the email. You have to send it to 'NY Schools' so I made it clear what school and situation I was referring to. I told them this superintendant is going to wind up explaining this one on national news and that their school is going to look awfully silly. My guess is the 15 day will be rescinded. Why does someone not even in their state have to point out the stupidity of this to these people?
    'Never stop fighting..never give up'

    Kevin Kostner as Eliott Ness in 'The Untouchables'

  15. #15
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    That school is right near where I live. Believe me they have way bigger fish to fry in that area and should focus on that as a opposed to a good kid. Absolutley ridiculous in my opinion.
    According to the local news somebody went to the principal and said the boy had a knife on his person(obviously someone who is out to get this kid),when they searched him they found nothing but went out and searched his car and found the pocket knife.

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