Student Caught With A Deadly Weapon Argues To Stay In School - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

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Student Caught With A Deadly Weapon Argues To Stay In School

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A Minnesota high school student, who was caught with a knife in her bag, has been expelled for the rest of the school year but some are questioning if the punishment is too harsh

United South Central School District held an expulsion hearing Friday night but it was unique in that Alyssa Drescher's father, Rick, asked for it to be open to the public. He wanted to allow her supporters and the media to view the proceedings.

What followed was similar to a court case, with a lawyer for the school district administration laying out his case in calling for Drescher's expulsion from USC and her lawyers fighting back.

"People frequently ask of us what are schools doing to make sure our children are safe to go there. Adopting and strictly enforcing policies prohibiting weapons and punishing students from bringing weapons onto school property is what we're doing to make it safe,” explains the District’s Attorney , Trevor Helmers.

Helmers would call on the school’s Liaison Officer and Principal Kelly Schlaak to detail how the pocketknife was found in Drescher's purse after the school brought in a drug-sniffing dog to search the student's lockers while they put the school on lockdown. The district has an amnesty policy of sorts.  They allow students to alert officials to a weapon they have in their possession to avoid punishment. Helmers said that because Drescher had the chance to tell her teacher about the knife while during the lockdown, her actions warranted an expulsion.

 Drescher had a lawyer at the proceeding as well, and had a teacher, the school athletic director and her employer testify on her behalf.

She acknowledged the error she had made, and said she would accept punishment but was deeply frightened at what the black mark of expulsion could do to her dream of attending college.

Drescher says, “everyone says that your senior year is the best and not I'm terrified I'm going to miss out on mine. And especially being able to get into a good college and have a bright future ahead of me."

The biggest point of contention in the hearing revolved around the district's stance that it was just following its zero-tolerance weapons policy.  Drecher's attorney, Chris Johnson, pointed out that other students that were found with lighters, also a considered a weapon under the school's zero-tolerance policy, and were not subject to expulsion.

A point he hammered home in his cross-examination of school superintendent Jerry Jensen.

 "We do have a zero-tolerance policy. But with that policy we do have flexibility to make judgments on how much danger people are in.,” explained Superintendent Jerry Jensen.

In the end the USC School Board voted unanimously to against Drescher.

Her attorney, Chris Johnson, says it isn't over yet.

Johnson argues, “clearly in this case the punishment doesn't meet the crime. We believe this punishment is unjustly harsh and unfair and we will fight."

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