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State Lifts Kindergartner’s Suspension For Bringing Butter Knife to Class

June 13, 1995

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A 6-year-old suspended from kindergarten for bringing a butter knife to cut his cookies will be allowed to return to school, state officials ruled Tuesday after determining his punishment was too severe.

The 10-day suspension, which would have kept the boy from attending his kindergarten graduation at Agnes Little Elementary School in Pawtucket, outraged state Child Advocate Laureen D’Ambra, who asked the state Department of Education to intervene.

``There was never any evidence that boy wanted to hurt anybody,″ D’Ambra said. ``He was just an adorable little boy who had no idea what he had done wrong.″

Principal Audrey Cunha called police and suspended the boy June 6 after the knife he said he brought to cut his cookies with fell from his pocket. Cunha did not return calls for comment Tuesday.

The suspension was made under the Pawtucket school district’s ``zero-tolerance″ weapons policy.

Education Commissioner Peter McWalters defended the policy but said it needs to be enforced with flexibility and on a case-by-case basis.

``We want schools to have a policy of pulling all students out of class if they have a weapon,″ McWalters said. ``But then you have to decide if the student should be kept out for a day or 10 days or not at all.″

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