A Detroit honor student has been suspended for carrying a pocketknife. However, the punishment doesn’t stop there. School officials at Annapolis High School located in Dearborn Heights, Michigan has decided to suspend the student for an entire school year.
Seventeen-year-old Atiya Haynes was caught with a pocketknife after school officials searched female students exiting the restroom. What led to the search? A security guard claimed to have detected marijuana, reported a local news station.
The high school honor student said she was not aware the pocketknife was in her school bag. It was given to her by her grandfather to carry for protection, while traveling back and forth through dangerous neighborhoods to her lifeguard job.
Haynes was suspended for a year, but school officials has allowed her to take online classes so she’ll be able to graduate with her class in 2015.
Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union will be representing Haynes.
In efforts to have her suspension lifted, Haynes has penned a letter to her school district. Haynes wrote:
“I understand and acknowledge my irresponsibility in the situation; I should have educated myself on what was and wasn’t acceptable on school grounds. I had become so accustomed to feeling the need to protect myself that I became careless. Unfortunately it is easy to do so when I don’t have the luxury of living around the block from my school. In order to get to Annapolis, I have to pass through multiple cities, and when my car actually decides to work it still isn’t reliable transportation. In order to ensure security, from destination to destination, my family and I mutually agreed that certain forms of protection are necessary. This experience has definitely made me more cognizant. I truly hope that my sincerity is taken into account as well as my academic strides. I am devoted to learning and have pushed myself throughout my academic career, but above all, I am a teenager, with a juvenile mindset and the preeminence to make mistakes. The No-Tolerance Policy eliminates what it means to truly be a child, what it means to learn from your mishaps, and what it is to pick up the pieces because this policy throws those pieces into the wind. This is a classic case of ‘wrong place, wrong time,’ and I acknowledge that I have made a mistake by not making myself aware of certain conduct codes.”
However, in a statement to the Huffington Post, school district Superintendent Todd Thieken defended the decision. He noted the law states if a student is found with a dangerous weapon he/she should be expelled, but instead school officials opted for suspension.