Zero Tolerance

12-Year-Old Suspended for a Year After Turning in Knife He Found—It Wasn't Even His

Is Coldwater Community Schools trying to teach kids never to report weapons to their teachers and counselors?


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Twelve-year-old Kyler Davies found a knife in a leather case inside his backpack. He hadn't put it there—his mother bought the bag from Goodwill, and suspects it had been there all along.

Kyler was at school—Coldwater Community Schools in Branch County, Michigan—when he discovered the knife. He promptly told a counselor about it.

He was suspended for one full year.

School officials later decreased the duration of his suspension to 30 days, according to

The issue wasn't just contained to the classroom; it also spilled over on to the football field. Davies tells us the school tried to keep her son from playing football.

"The school told me he could not go on their property, he could not play; he can't ride the bus with his team because it's a Coldwater bus," she said.

We spoke with Coldwater Rocket Football, the organization that runs the local football program. It is independent of the district and tells us the school wanted the rocket program to kick Kyler off the team, but they refused.

Emphasis mine.

The school is certainly going to extraordinary lengths to punish a child who did absolutely nothing wrong. On the contrary, he did the right thing. We want kids to feel comfortable talking to adults about difficult or dangerous circumstances. They should feel like they can trust their teachers and counselors.

Coldwater is sending the opposite message. The school is teaching children that if they find a knife in school, they should keep it to themselves or pass it off to someone else. Nobody wants to be suspended for weeks for something that wasn't their fault.

There's no upside to overreacting about weapons in schools. It's not as if failing to sufficiently punish Kyler is going to result in a sudden increase in knives appearing in backpacks. Coldwater officials have made a really stupid mistake here—no doubt thanks to the district's zero tolerance policy toward weapons.