Father speaks out against second-grader suspension

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:14 PM

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:

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