Model Student, Sports Star Suspended for Paring Knife Mix-Up (Updated: School Press Statement Added)
(See updates at end of article. For the very latest on this story, go here.)
On its face, this looks like it’s an asinine decision which is probably the product of a culture that makes lawsuits possible in every breath we take. How else to explain what the school principal has done here? It’s either the school’s fear of a lawsuit, or a total lack of common sense among the school’s leadership, or there’s something we don’t know about all this that hasn’t shown up in the media reports. I’m not discounting that third possibility, but based on what we know from media reports, this is indefensible:
An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.
“She got pulled into it. She doesn’t have to be a bad person to be searched,” Smithwick’s father, Joe Smithwick, said.
The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.
“It’s just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple,” he said.