A Delaware 1st grader who was facing 45 days in an alternative school as punishment for taking a camping utensil to school returned to class after the school board made a hasty change granting him a reprieve.
The seven-member Christina, Del., school board voted unanimously Oct. 13 to reduce the punishment for kindergartners and 1st graders who take weapons to school or commit violent offenses to a suspension ranging from three to five days.
Zachary Christie, 6, had faced the punishment after he took the combination folding knife, fork, and spoon to school to eat lunch last month. His situation made national news and prompted debate over whether schools have gone too far with “zero tolerance” policies.
A spokeswoman for the 17,000-student district said more changes to the code of conduct were possible.
Last year, a 5th grade girl in the district was ordered expelled after she brought a cake to school and a serrated knife for cutting it. The expulsion was overturned, and it led to a state law that gives districts more flexibility on punishments. But that law applies only to conduct that triggers expulsions, not suspensions.
A version of this article appeared in the October 21, 2009 edition of Education Week as Del. District Reduces Penalty for 1st Grader