TROY, N.Y. — An Eagle Scout who kept a 2-inch pocketknife in his car was suspended from his high school for 20 days for bringing the weapon onto school grounds. Now he is concerned about his chances for acceptance to West Point.
Matthew Whalen, 17, said he gave the knife to an administrator at Lansingburgh High School in Troy last month after another student told officials he had been carrying a knife. He was suspended for violating the district’s zero-tolerance policy for weapons on school grounds.
The high school senior said the knife was a gift from his grandfather, the police chief in a nearby village.
Whalen, a member of the Army National Guard, said he kept the knife in his car along with other survival items in case of an emergency. He now worries the suspension may hurt his chances of gaining admission to West Point, where he has wanted to go for years.
“I just want to be able to go back to school,” Whalen told the Times Union of Albany. “I didn’t intentionally do anything wrong. I don’t even consider it a weapon.”
Whalen will be allowed to return to school Oct. 21.
District officials said they don’t comment on student disciplinary matters, but superintendent George Goodwin said in a prepared statement that the district has a zero-tolerance policy for possessing weapons of any kind on school property.
“We believe this policy allows us to fulfill our duty of maintaining the safety of our district’s education environment for our students, faculty and community members,” said Goodwin.
In another zero-tolerance case this week in Delaware, a 6-year-old boy was facing 45 days in an alternative school as punishment for bringing his favorite camping utensil — a combination folding knife, fork and spoon — to school to use at lunch. The school board voted Tuesday to reduce the punishment for kindergartners and first-graders who take weapons to school or commit violent offenses, and the boy was allowed to return to school.