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Suspension Too Harsh for Girl Who Carried Pocketknife

March 26, 1994

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ An eighth-grader kicked out of school for inadvertently bringing a pocketknife to class was was punished too harshly, the state Board of Education ruled.

Dana Sabas, 13, deserved punishment for violating the district’s zero tolerance weapons policy, but the district should have considered the circumstances in deciding how long to suspend her, the board said Thursday.

Administrators for Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District No. 11 could not be reached for comment at their offices Friday afternoon because the district was on spring break.

The school superintendent did not return a call seeking comment.

The ruling allows Dana to return to school when classes resume April 4.

Her mother, Mary Sabas, was pleased. ″I’m also really worried about her. I’m wondering whether the school will be treating her really differently,″ she said.

Dana was suspended Dec. 15 after another student found the knife in her pencil case. Dana had tucked it there after using the attached scissors at home to wrap her mother’s Christmas present.

A hearing officer determined that Dana didn’t mean to bring the knife to school, didn’t take it out and didn’t present a threat, but said his only option was to recommend expulsion for the rest of the year.

The Sabas family appealed to the state board.