Bayside Middle School in Virginia Beach, VA, is apparently still contemplating expelling sixth grader Adrionna Harris after, on March 13th, she reportedly saw and stopped a classmate who was engaged in cutting their arm with a razor blade and bleeding. Harris apparently physically took the razor blade away and convinced the classmate that what they were doing wasn’t good.
The next day, she told school administrators what happened and was rewarded for her intervention with a 10 day suspension based on the school’s zero tolerance policy for possession of weapons as in she briefly possessed the razor blade she took from the self harming student before throwing it in the trash. Those zero tolerance policies can be found here(pdf) but I’ve pulled the relevant sections for you below.
Adrionna’s mother says that School Board members wouldn’t return her call until she went to the press and the press started asking questions. Now, she says, they’re very interested in hearing Adrionna’s side of the story.
“It is amazing. They are listening to us now … she should be back in school tomorrow and that would be fair,” said Rachael Harris.
Wednesday night, Virginia Beach City Public Schools agreed to do something that makes the Harris family really happy — they’ve moved Adrionna’s suspension hearing, which was supposed to be in ten days, to Thursday.
Asked if she would intervene again if she knew she’d be suspended for doing so, Adrionna answered, “Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him … I would do it again even if I got suspended, yes.”
Zero tolerance policies have been criticized nationally for being applied overbroadly and removing the ability of teachers and administrators to exercise common-sense discretion like, y’know, human beings in charge of guiding and teaching children. The Virginia State Board of Education was presented with these issues as early as 2005(pdf).
Pay attention to that last bit on the second to last doc. In 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of Virginia 8th grader who took a knife away from a suicidal friend. He was suspended anyway since he “possessed” a weapon. By this same logic, a student should also be suspended or more likely expelled for disarming an active shooter in a school hallway during a deadly rampage.
Lesson from Virginia seems to be “don’t help anyone, ever.” There’s no word on what became of the student who was self harming/toying with suicide but given the law the answer is probably “suspended.”
UPDATE: Virginia Beach Public Schools have dropped the suspension against Adrionna Harris and any information regarding the incident has been cleared from her record. Given the school system’s initial hard stance on the incident there was some question as to why the sudden change of heart.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools has been pummeled in social media for suspending Adrionna in the first place. During the meeting, Mr. Harris said it was clear the school system is tired of the negative reaction against them because of what people perceive as unfair treatment of Adrionna.
“They definitely want it to be over with. They don’t want 10 On Your Side spotlighting this issue. They are over it, and so are we,” Harris said.