Father speaks out against second-grader suspension

(UPDATED: Feb. 20 at 10:40 a.m.) The 7-year-old boy's family is upset about the suspension and say the boy didn't even know the multi-tool was in his pocket until he was on the playground. What do you think about this? Vote on the poll attached below this story update.
Becky Vargo
Feb 19, 2013


The second-grader who took a multi-tool knife to the West Michigan Academy of Arts and Academics on Feb. 12 was suspended for eight days, his father said Monday.

Academy Director Travis Thomsen said that information is inaccurate, but declined to say what the suspension actually was based on privacy laws.

The father, whom the Tribune is not identifying to protect the identity of the child, said his son should not have been punished at all.

“My son didn’t even know he had it on him,” the father said.

The 7-year-old boy “was learning the proper use and safety of the tool” at home so he could use it in Cub Scouts when he was eligible, his father said.

When the boy went to school the next day, “He forgot the knife was in his coat pocket,” the father said. He was on the Ferrysburg school's playground when he discovered he had the tool, his father said.

After being seen with the multi-tool knife, the child was taken to the school's office and his parents were called to the school, Thomsen said. Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police were also called, according to school policy.

The director said last week that the child was suspended in accordance with the school board policy and student handbook policy. The knife blade on the tool did not meet the definition of a weapon in the state regulations, he said.

Thomsen told the Tribune, and then wrote in a letter to the school's parents, that the multi-tool “was not opened, used to threaten, bully or intimidate other students. Upon discovery, the knife was confiscated and the student escorted to the office.”

Since then the child’s homework is being sent home and his parents plan to meet with school administrators today for an update on the situation.

Thomsen said “possibly,” when asked if the boy would be back in school on Wednesday.

When asked about public comment that the suspension was an overreaction, Thomsen said “student safety is first and foremost.”

UPDATED INFORMATION: The child is back in school today, his father said on Wednesday morning.

Check out the entire story in Tuesday's Tribune; and read the school's letter to parents by clicking on the PDF below:



I want to vote for more than one.

retired DOC

Remember this is called a tool.


This is blown way out of proportion. Why in the world would the spring lake police take time to investigate ect... for such a thing, {Oh that’s right it is the spring lake police }


The police were called by the school. ..they should be suspending the school principle for 8 days for not using common sense give me a break...we should suspend the Tribune for hyping the story...sigh!


Normally agree with you Wing, but in this and similar cases, if local news didn't advise us of what government school teachers and administrators are up to, these type of outrages would continue and their frequency would increase.

In this case, we need to shine a spotlight on the bureaucratic bullies who work for us.


Vlad it seems you have a dislike for teachers, which is fine. However, as a teacher, I do take pride in my job and am not by any means a bureaucratic bully. I am a person who likes to get the most out of my "product" AKA my students, even though it still has to align what our idiotic government states should be done. Please remember that although some teachers and administrators, like these mentioned in the article, go way too far, that not all education employees fit that mold.

In regards to the article, which is what this forum is for, I agree that this was blown WAY out of proportion and that it could have been handled in a much different manner. Looking at what is known to us, I personally would have taken the tool (because that's what it is) and simply called dad to come pick up the tool. A reminder that it doesn't belong in school would be suitable for both parent and student, thank the teacher for bringing it to the attention of admin and move on with life. Just my two cents.


I have no dislike for teachers - many moons ago I were one, and although I have had a rich history of jobs that would be considered difficult, teaching was probably the hardest. I do have disdain for the large administrative bureaucracy that has been overlaid on the educational system, and the idiotic government rules that impact all of our lives more and more each passing year.

Sure, I have problems with teachers who are unwilling to use their own common sense and become a part of the bureaucratic bullying (and that state is not limited to the education system), but certainly that is not all teachers.

I regret that what I might have written here has led you to believe I have a dislike for teachers. I have a general dislike only for the huge, expensive, and generally unyielding bureaucracy, and for teachers' unions that think they need to behave like Teamsters of old to prove their worth.

Mystic Michael

While it may surprise you to learn of it, I actually agree with you, Vlad. I don't like bureaucracies any more than you do. In my observation, they tend to derive their power, gradually and steadily, throughout decades of systematic "idiot-proofing" of rules, procedures & policies, designed to automate all possible responses to all possible situations - at the expense of individual common sense, good judgment, and responsible initiative.

Take the TSA, for example: A necessary evil, I'll freely concede. But a monster in the making nonetheless...



Actually, I'm not really surprised, MM. In my experience, thinking people, who may disagree a majority of the time, cherish their individuality, including the right to freely express themselves.

To quote one of my favorites, H.L. Mencken,:

“I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.” [“Why Liberty?”, Chicago Tribune, January 30, 1927]


Ohreally, agree with you 100%


LOL!!! I agree, Wingmaster. While we're at it, let's suspend him for a few more days for sending the kids to school today in this weather.


The entire scenario is nuts. If we continue to allow the City, County, State and Federal Gov't to blanket us with ridiculous rules and laws it's our own fault. The public is becoming a bunch of sheeple, who need to be told what to do and what to think. I'm tired of it.
God help us if our Country ends up in massive trouble, whether it be economic or attack on our homeland, the people won't be able to think for themselves and will cower in fear.

M. Louis Wolf

The WMMA seems to be a well run school and to talk to the kids that attend they take a lot of pride in it. So on that level they are doing a fine job, because that attitude is desireable.
That said our CYA society is totally sickening. Parasitic lawyers and insurance companies have cowed everyone that our kids are learning from into shadows of the people we want them to be. It would be wonderful if adults had the brass to what is right and not just what keeps them out of trouble.

Go Blue

With all that said, my five year old knows that he absolutely never bring a "toy" to school, for this very reason.


Well, you must be very proud. I vote for you as parent of the year. :-/

Go Blue

...but I am also a racist


Then I would have to assume your parents are also proud.


Very few, if any, have noticed that there are two tools in this story; one which the boy brought to school by mistake, and then there is Travis Thomsen.


"The director said last week that the child was suspended in accordance with the school board policy and student handbook policy."

I'm curious to know what specific sections of the school board policy and student handbook policy address this specific incident, not just what the penalties and procedures are for student suspension.


I'm not a Grand Haven resident yet. I've come to this site to view the homes classified section as I am looking to relocate possibly in Grand Haven. This story really makes me think about that decision. Coopersville or Allendale would work just as well for our commute between GR and Fruitport. Why didn't the teacher (an educated person) just walk the child to the principal's office and the two of them calmly open the tool, show the child it has a knife and explain it could be dangerous. Take the knife,call a parent to the school to take possesion of the knife and be done with this matter. When I was in school the BEST teacher I ever had was my second grade teacher, Miss Goldie Snow, Townline elementary in the Kentwood school system in GR. If you were a girl and you could learn all the state capitals you got your choice of two gifts. The gift the girls always chose was the miniature silver spoon. They wore it on a chain around their neck. Payed for by Miss Snow. The gift the boys ALL chose was...you guessed it, a cool knife!!! It had a fork,spoon,scissors,two blades,can opener,and even a cork screw. To the best of my knowledge none of us cut ourselves, stabbed one another, or got drunk because of the cork screw. It did cause the other boys to study the state capitals in earnest.


By the way, I think Miss Snow bought them at the CUB SCOUT display in the old Roger's department store in Wyoming.


Those were the good old days, dgw, when common sense prevailed and we could trust the judgment of both our school administrators and our kids. Don't worry about moving to Grand Haven. I made the move a few years ago and am mostly happy with it. You are closer to evening swims in Lake Michigan here than Coopersville and Allendale, so come on over. Especially if you're Irish. We need to establish an enclave here among the Dutch.

Mystic Michael

A most peculiar poll...

Response options #1, #2 & #3 all more or less convey the same basic opinion. Altogether, they comprise approximately 76% of the total poll responses thus far.

Yet fragmenting this opinion among several similarly-worded response options would make it appear as if the overall opinion expressed is far more fragmented than it actually is. What is the point?

Again, a peculiar poll...



I stillthink this is a handy and affordable compact tool with devices you need for quick fixes and repairs. Stainless steel construction with an assortment of attached tools that includes flat-nose pliers, wire-stripper, knife, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, saw, bottle opener and scissors. Nylon sheath included. Imported.
Open length: 4-1/2".
Closed length: 3".
Colors available:
Pink Green or Assorted Red or Assorted Black or Assorted Silver.
A great gift on sale for $5.99


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