Eagle Scout Appeals District's Zero-Tolerance Suspension

NEW YORK

A school district’s zero-tolerance policy is being scrutinized after 17-year-old Matthew Whalen was recently suspended for a month for having a two-inch pocketknife locked in a survival kit in his car. The boy’s parents have retained a lawyer to appeal the district’s policies and demand their son’s record be cleared.

The teen’s father says the school district violated his son’s due process by disregarding state education guidelines when they suspended him. Whalen was origionally suspened for five days, but had his punishment increased to a month after a meeting with school officials. His parents say according to state law, their son received written notification of the suspension six days too late reported Fox News.

If the board refuses Whalen’s appeal, the family plans to press his case with the state’s education commissioner.

Whalen, an Eagle Scout and senior at Lansingburgh Senior High School, says he was following the Boy Scout motto of always being prepared. The boy’s survival kit also included a sleeping bag, water and ready-to-eat meal.

According to news reports, the student has received an award from the Boy Scouts of America for saving a life and completing 10 weeks of basic military training. The knife was given to him by his police chief grandfather.

School officials called the police, who later refused to arrest Whalen because he hadn’t broken any laws. Whalen is concerned the suspension will deter his attempts to enter the renowned military school, West Point.

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