Fox Chapel student surrenders knife, suspended

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The attorney for a Fox Chapel Area High School student suspended for 10 days for turning over a knife he says he accidentally brought to a football game has asked the district to vacate his suspension and erase it from his academic record.

Attorney Phil DiLucente said his client, David Schaffner III, 16, should not be punished for being honest and handing a security guard a hunting knife that he forgot to remove from his pocket before attending the football game Sept. 13.

Mr. DiLucente said David, a junior, had been using the knife to clear a wooded area near his Fox Chapel home before he went to the game. He wore the same pants to the game and as he approached the gate, he realized that he still had the knife in his pocket.

Mr. DiLucente said David presented the knife to a security guard at the gate, explaining that he had just found it in his pocket and knew he was not supposed to have it at the game.

The security guard took the knife and allowed David to enter. But several minutes later, the high school principal, Michael Hower, sought out the boy in the student section and ordered him to leave.

David and his parents were instructed to meet with the principal on Monday morning, and they were told that the school's zero-tolerance policy required that David be suspended for 10 days for bringing a weapon onto school property, Mr. DiLucente said.

In addition, school policy and state law call for students who bring weapons onto school property or to school events to be expelled for a year. But both allow for superintendents to make exceptions to the expulsion provision.

Mr. DiLucente said he requested such an exception for David in addition to the revocation of his suspension. "The issue becomes: Is honesty going to be punished and to what extent?" Mr. DiLucente said.

The district issued a statement defending its actions: "When there is a weapon on school property, we must follow the steps that are required by law. This is a responsibility we have to our community, students and staff."

The statement also said school officials can't discuss the details of any discipline case.

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Mary Neiderberger: or 412-851-1866.


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