2nd-grader brings knife to school

A student at the West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics has been suspended for bringing a knife to school.
Becky Vargo
Feb 13, 2013


Academy Director Travis Thomsen said parents and students were not notified of the incident.

“We didn’t feel like we needed to draw attention to it because it was a non-threatening situation,” he said.

Thomsen said the Ferrysburg charter school's policy for this type of situation is to contact police.

Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police were called to the school shortly after 2:30 p.m. Tuesday after a teacher discovered the second-grader had the knife, Thomsen said.

“It wasn’t large enough to fall under state-mandated suspension and expulsion rules for dangerous weapons,” Thomsen said.

Those rules require the blade to be more than 3-inches long.

The knife the boy brought to school is a Cabela's multi-tool, with a blade less than 2-inches long, said Lori Spelde of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department.

“It was not long enough for it to be considered a weapon,” she said.

More details on this story will be in Thursday's Tribune.



Let me get this straight....

The director says “We didn’t feel like we needed to draw attention to it because it was a non-threatening situation,” Isn't calling the police and ultimately reading about it in a newspaper story drawing attention to the incident??

And if “It wasn’t large enough to fall under state-mandated suspension and expulsion rules for dangerous weapons,” why was the student suspended?

The police say “It was not long enough for it to be considered a weapon"

So just trying to understand thru all the contradictory statements....Why was the child suspended if it the knife: 1)did not fall under state mandated suspension and expulsion rules for dangerous weapons, and 2)was not considered to be a weapon by police?

Administrators need to do a sweep of the building immediately to remove any and all other weapons from the building such as sharp pencils, pens, house keys, plastic/metal silverware, belt buckles, and scissors.


Ridiculous. It's a TOOL, not a weapon. Just wow. Now teach the child that while he has done nothing wrong, the perception that he did is worthy of suspension (if he knows what that is) AND every parent was notified that a child brought a multi tool to school?! I shake my head in disbelief.


These suspensions are getting way out of hand. It's as though the people making these decisions have completely taken leave of their senses. I recently read a story about a girl in Pennsylvania who was suspended for bringing a paper gun to school. Only it wasn't a photo of a gun or any type of gun at all. It was maybe a 3" x 3" piece of plain paper with the corner torn off. Giving it the general shape of a gun. And she was suspended! I wonder why they didn't bring in the SWAT team to deal with this act of terror.

These things are going to continue to happen and the reactions of school administrators will only get more egregious.


Is it an oxymoron or what that there is an ad next to the comments showing a very large knife?


This is incredible. The adults here probably all have college degrees and could not find a common sense way to handle it? Call the Police? Suspend the kid? Why bother being in education if you plan on teaching kids that paranoid overreaction is the way to make your decisions. Will they suspend someone with a really sharp pencil next? I would hate to see what they do to someone who intentionally breaks the rules.


My kids attend this school and I was pleased to have received an email today notifying me of the situation, ONLY because I like to stay informed and had wondered if my kids knew of it. My kids had no clue that it had even happened. I think taking it away, releasing it to mom or dad and reminding all of the kids not to bring 'knives' to school would've been sufficient. Suspending a 2nd grader (likely a 7 year old) for bringing what was probably his harmless, most awesome Christmas gift seems a tad harsh. What happened to boys being boys? My boys want to be like their father. If he carried a pocket knife, they would want to also. I'm showing my age here, but I'm pretty sure I actually remember boys carrying little pocket knives at school when I was a kid.


Exactly right, anon-mom. The response to this situation was ludicrous, and your suggestion to simply hold the tool (not knife) for mom or dad would have been appropriate. This could have been a teachable moment for all the kids but, instead, the teachers at WMAAA dropped the ball. Now the boy will miss school and likely undergo humiliation because some adults grossly overreacted. I'm dating myself as well, but I sure prefer those days when little boys carried pocket knives without causing hysteria.


If the boy was troubled and stabbed a student with the knife you all would look at this differently. (Yes, it could happen I remember in the 80's in the 3rd grade a student stabbed another with a pencil). The point is a knife of any kind has no place in schools. PERIOD. The school handled it well and let it be known, they will not tolerate any type of weapon at any age! Come on wake up look at the world we live in. Better safe than sorry. So props to wmaaa and staff.


With all due respect overreaction is what will destroy the next generation of citizens in our country since everyone will have a felony anyway. Using balance and discernment in every situation is better judgement. If it were your kid you might not be so harsh knowing you could make a teachable moment from the incident rather than irrationality. This is not a faceless person...it's someone's child. I respect your opinion but you should consider the global effect of such a view. It doesn't fit every situation.


did we ban pencils?.....nooooooo.....fear mongering to the extreme!!!


It seems we are trying to make criminals out of everyone these days. This is where zero tolerance has brought us. It's time for Americans to start learning our rights guaranteed by the Constitution and exercising that knowledge to question politicians who advocate these freedom snatching laws.

Common sense needs to return to the schools and the government. This poor kid is being dealt with in the most extreme way by calling the police and even making this public. This is a matter between the school, child, and parents. WMAAA used to have a contract with the students and parents for involvement years ago. I doubt such a contract should involve the police or media over such nonsense.

I went to school back in the eighties.....at the highest point of school shootings and these extreme measures didn't exist. As a kid I remember bring a knife to school once and the teacher took it away giving it back to me at the end of the day. She told me not to bring it back or she would call my parents. Also, in seventh grade I brought a Tylenol to school because of pain from a sprain and asked my social studies teacher if I could get a drink of water to take it. She simply took it from me and said no while throwing it in the trash. End of story....I learned from both incidents and moved on. No one freaked out and called in the National Guard. Get a life and a new hobby people! Quit trying to make criminals out of our children!


The boy apparently was not troubled and certainly didn't stab another student, at least according to this story. He could easily do so with the pencils, pens, scissors and other objects present in any classroom. He probably just brought his cool, prized possession with him to school to show his friends, which is the thinking of a typical seven-year old. Or he just forgot about it in his pants pocket. It needs to be remembered that the overwhelming majority of people, and children, are good. Sometimes, we make simple mistakes that should be remedied as simple mistakes. This situation was not at all handled well.


This is all getting out of hand. What are we teaching the kids? That a tool is a weapon and since they have a tool on them we are assuming they want commit harm. It's insane!
We've lost all common sense. That happened when we allowed the Government to do the Thinking For Us! This has got to STOP. Come on people, wake up and take responsibility.
If a kid brings a tool to school, take it away from him and send him back to class. Adults have allowed themselves to become so dang weak. What are we teaching our kids? I

Say No To Tourist's

Talk about lame..........The three key points here.

(1) The knife the boy brought to school is a Cabela's multi-tool, with a blade less than 2-inches long, said Lori Spelde of the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department.

(2)“It wasn’t large enough to fall under state-mandated suspension and expulsion rules for dangerous weapons,” Thomsen said.

(3)“We didn’t feel like we needed to draw attention to it because it was a non-threatening situation,” he said.

Yup spew it all over the news after the fact. seems to me back when I was in the Boyscouts we all had Swiss Army knives IE: Multi tools, wasnt a crime then. Now we have the cops more than likely scaring the crap out of the kid and making the parents feel like criminals, CPS is prolly involed too.

This whole deal is a steaming pile of horse crap, If they would have done that to my child, the teacher and Academy Director would have had the wrath of me raining down on them.


Well said Say No! However, we can never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups; who are these administrators and why are they allowed to make decisions? This is again like the party the teens had, not news worthy, but we are all chomping at the bit to show our disgust that it was even reported; then it is turns out to be the most read article.


Common sense is so rare these days, it should be classified a Super Power.


As a parent who has a child who attends this school, I am glad the school made the choice they did. There should be a no tolerance poliicy when it comes to the safety of our children. I don't care what type of knife it was or how long the blade was. Seriously? How many children accidentally hurt themselves with guns they find in their own homes? I'm sure this was innocent, but where do we draw the line honestly? Oh its okay to bring a knife to school as long as its under a certain measurement? Ummmm, no. This was a good lesson for the child, for the children that goto that school and to parents everywhere. No weapon should enter that school or any school in a childs posession for any reason what so ever. If we allowed this to happen without any consequences, then what's the next child to think and so forth? Its okay, as long as I'm not hurting someone with it? Call me crazy, but I'm glad this was made to be a lesson to all involved.


When I was in scouts we on occasions wore our scout uniforms to school. Part of the uniform was the multi purpose tool. The administration has no discretion today under the state law...


I remember carving my girlfriends name in my desk at school, with a knife.
Hey slmom1, you said call you crazy! Hey Crazy (kidding), how about a finger nail clipper, can they have that? Paper clip? Pen, Pencil, whoa - how about a compass; I could do some serious damage with that learning instrument.
Now, keep in mind this blade was part of a tool, Swiss army type stuff; unless it states somewhere in the admission forms that these items are considered contraband it should be fine. My point is that they can’t make up the policy as they go along for "specific individuals", policy needs to be clearly stated and then you can require conformity.


Maybe there should be a "ZERO TOLERANCE" policy for failure of common sense by administrators and teachers - each instance, as determined by the parents, should result in a suspension and notation on the offender's personnel record. Each subsequent violation of the policy results in increasingly harsh penalties. It would make no difference if the failure of common sense was not serious enough to violate the rules against the specific decision.


I can see your side completely, but as a parent with a young child who attends that school, I do feel they did the right thing and I hope that it is taken as a learned lesson and any child who might have thought of bringing such an item to school in the future, hopefully will think twice and make the right choice.

Say No To Tourist's

Its your responsibility as a parent to prevent this, not a 2nd grader who doesnt know better.


I agree Say No To Tourists. That's why I said in my first comment, I hope its a lesson learned for ALL involved.


slmom1, do you really think suspension was necessary? Don't you think the child could've learned this important lesson without such severe punishment? All I can think is that the poor baby likely missed his Valentine's Day party. :( Poor kid.


The actions of the school administration and Directors are immature and harmful to all students. They are running wild on a control trip that allows them to make up the rules as they go or create new ones at their will. This puts every child in that school at risk of ending up where this 2nd grader is now. Swiss Army knives were allowed during the camping trip by much older students, but now they are a weapon? But what do you expect from an administration that also turns a blind eye to Bullying?
As a parent who has children at this school I am horrified at how these administrators handled this situation, from ignoring guidelines, to sending emails stating this would be kept "in house" then splashing it publically through the media, to making it up as they go. Sadly, I am also not surprised at the administrations current behavior, they have a track record of half truths, bent rules and their wants before childrens best interests. This was an excellent opportunity to teach children in a positive manor instead of what they have been taught by the example set forth by the Directors.
My prayers, support and thoughts are with the 2nd grader and their family!


can not imagin how scared the kid was, a 2nd grader, i understand the tolence rule, but have some common sense

Say No To Tourist's

I wonder if the Directors application included these questions?

What kind of Academy Director skills do you have? Answer: None.
How would you rate your Common sense skills? Answer: Poor.
Are you a liar? Answer: Yes.
What would be your biggest asset to this school? Answer: I dunno?
Why are you appying for this job? Answer: Becuz no one else wood gives me's a job


chasingsunsets, you have a bullying issue too? My son has had kids get physical with him several times. Each time I get the 'ok, it's been dealt with bla bla bla' line and less than a week later, we're back to square one. I honestly though WMAAA would be BETTER with the bullying than GHAPS, but I'm being proven wrong. It's MUCH worse.

Also, I have a 7th grader that attended camp. I wasn't aware that they could bring swiss army knives, but that makes sense. Sheesh. How frustrating. Makes me very glad I procrastinated with my recent parent survey. ;) My survey has now been completed.

Mostly Reading

In reading all of this I have couple comments and a few questions that relate to many of the comments posted.

My first comment is that the policies in many schools is that when a weapon is found on a student the police are called. You may call this a multi-tool if you would like, but please do not bury the fact that it is a multi-tool with a knife. The fact that the knife was below the minimum for a mandatory expulsion does not eliminate the ability for the student to receive consequences and does not mean the knife is not a weapon. Picture the potential situation if the administrators were told that a student had a knife in the building and he/she stated : "ok, let's measure it to see if we're mandated by the state to react, if it's just a couple inches long we'll be fine.". I think the administration most likely put a lot of thought into their decision about the suspensiom and are looking to make sure this is not likely to happen again.

A few questions now:

If the student comes back and someday, again, brings a knife (maybe longer this time) and the police or another student's parents or lawyer asks the administration if this student has done this before they would have to say yes. The next question would be what did you do about it the last time? They could say that they called the police, made sure the student knew it was a big deal and was suspended as a life lesson about bringing knives to school. OR they could say that the last time it was just a little knife so we gave it a pass. This would almost be like saying that all students may bring a small knife to school once until it's important for the school to do anything.

I wonder how the comments would read in that case....

Say No To Tourist's

Your making a reasonable assertion, but. 98% of the Multi tools made today open with a pair of pliers first and the accessories are located in the lower sections of the handles. Manufacturers of these tools, not knives are Gerber, Leatherman and a few others are suppliers for many other companies including Cabelas. Now a Swiss Amry knife is basically the same only the knife opens first on 90% of them.
Now take the mindset of a 2nd grader who has this, yes he probably knows there was a knife in it. But with all the other options they have, he most likely thought it was pretty cool and just wanted to show it off to his friends like most kids that age would have.
This situation was handled wrong right from the start, the "tool" should have been just taken away and the parents contacted with out the actions they used. Now if it would have been a "knife only" then you follow protocol.
Todays society has dramatically changed over the past 20 some years, Common sense thinking is almost extinct. Directors, Administrators, Principal’s make their own Interpretations of these rules and jump to conclusions of these policies. Look at the ages of teachers no days compared to 30 years ago, there a whole new generaton. Basically “yuppies” so to speak. Back when I was in school, I’d say a good portion of us kids carried knives. We worked on the farm, fished, hunted, used them in shop class, the Boy scouts, working on cars ect. Carrying a knife was second nature.

Today’s society is warped and out of control, too bad common sense can’t be taught. We’d have a lot more brilliant people in the world……..



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