AHS senior found with knife allowed to return to class
The Aspen School Board decided yesterday not to expel an Aspen High School senior who brought a pocket knife to a soccer game at the school.
A police officer discovered the teen had the knife in his possession at the game, about two weeks ago.
The board’s decision to allow the student to return to school today comes with the condition that he never display any threatening behavior, with the knife or otherwise, according to Superintendent Tom Farrell.
The board reached its decision during an executive session before its regular meeting Monday night.
“There was no show of violence,” Farrell said. “He had used it to open a CD at home, put it in his pocket, forgot about it and then came to the game.”
Colorado state law requires that students found in possession of a weapons at school – including pocket knives like the one the student was carrying – be expelled, Farrell explained.
As a result, the student was automatically expelled following the discovery of the knife, Farrell said. However, last night the board overturned the expulsion, agreeing that the seven days the student had missed already was punishment enough.
“It was a non-controversial discussion,” Farrell said of the board’s deliberations. “We didn’t see him as any kind of threat.”
Farrell said the student has never been a disciplinary problem in school before.
“It’s the law, but I think they’ve gone a little overboard after Columbine,” Farrell added.
In light of recent armed robbery and burglary arrests involving several local youths – all former Aspen public school students – and the larger issue of violence in schools, the board also initiated a discussion about what role Aspen schools should play in teaching students to become upstanding citizens.
The discussion, which will be continued at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 13, stemmed from an already-in-place district policy about developing “personal characteristics” among students, including honesty, responsibility, respect for self, others and the law, and punctuality.
“Everywhere you go in the community, people are asking, `What is the school district doing about this?’ ” said school board president Alice Davis. “Parents are really interested in this type of discussion.”
Farrell said he welcomes a “good, hard debate about what changes need to be made.”
“I think what has happened in our community gives people a darn good reason to get involved,” Farrell said. “And I think parents are ready to talk about not cushioning their kids’ falls anymore.”
The board unanimously agreed further discussion about the matter is warranted, and welcomed input from community members as to how to proceed.
“There was no show of violence. We didn’t see him as any kind of threat.”
– Tom Farrell, school superintendent
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