Target: Dan Scott, Principal of Annapolis High School
Goal: Allow student to return to school after being unfairly suspended for carrying a pocketknife
A hardworking honor student has been suspended from school for simply carrying a pocketknife in her purse on school property. Atiya Haynes, a 17-year-old Detroit student, bikes across Detroit’s inner city areas in order to get to her school, in a more affluent suburb. Her grandfather, who was worried about her safety, gave to her a small pocketknife for self defense in case of an emergency. She forgot about the knife until it was found by school officials during a bag search at a school football game.
According to the school’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy, any blade over three inches long is prohibited. Atiya’s grandfather’s pocketknife measured three and a quarter inches. The school moved to suspend the Advanced Placement student with a 3.0 grade point average for 180 days, or the remainder of her senior year. The student, who planned to attend Howard University, will now be unable to graduate from high school this year.
Atiya’s mother immigrated from Ecuador at the age of six, and lived in poverty growing up. She is determined to give her daughter the best opportunities for a better life by sending her child to a school in the suburbs, where students are more proficient overall in subjects such as English and mathematics than the one closer to their home.
Atiya is working hard to ensure that she doesn’t become another statistic of poverty by obtaining a degree from a post-secondary institution. While weapons should not be accepted at school, this student will have her academic life seriously hampered by the school’s zero-tolerance policy. Zero-tolerance policies can be harmful to some students, as they fail to take into account the circumstances and can sometimes dole out punishments that are not proportionate to the offense. Sign the petition below to demand that this overly harsh suspension be struck down and Atiya be readmitted to school.
Dear Principal Dan Scott,
Atiya Haynes, a 17-year-old honor student, will be unable to complete her senior year of high school because she mistakenly forgot a pocketknife in her backpack at a football game. Because of the school’s zero-tolerance policy, she was suspended for 180 days, or the remainder of the school year, and will be unable to go to college next year.
Zero-tolerance policies can be counterproductive by unfairly punishing students with consequences disproportionate to their offense. It is unfair that this hardworking student will be held back an entire year because she forgot a weapon only one quarter of an inch over the limit in her purse. Considering the student’s dedication to her schoolwork, I demand that she is readmitted immediately to continue pursuing an education.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fir0002 via Flagstaffoto