Aieee! Worse Than Cub Scout/Utensil Story!

Oh my my my.  This yyztaredsb
hits me in the pit of my stomach and I’d love someone more tech-savvy than me to start a “HELPMATTHEW.COM” site like the one the mom started for her son Zachary, who was suspended for 45 days for bringing his Cub Scout eating utensil to school.

This story is almost more unbelievable: Matthew is an Eagle Scout who studied CPR at age 12 and thus saved his aunt’s life when he was 13. That felt pretty good, so he took it upon himself to always be prepared to save lives. To this end, he now keeps a sleeping bag in his car, along with some other helpful items like a change of clothes, water bottles, and a key chain knife (given to him by his granddad).

When his high school learned, from a friend, that he had a “weapon” in his car, Matthew was suspended. For 20 days.

He is worried this may affect his chance to go to West Point.

I really think it would be great if this school prevented a boy who has made saving lives his life’s priority from pursuing his dreams.  After all, he might go on to be brave and prepared and save even more lives, and we certainly don’t want that happening.

So — anyone out there up for starting a website petition? If so, I can’t wait to blog about it. And sign it! — Lenore

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42 Responses to Aieee! Worse Than Cub Scout/Utensil Story!

  1. Heidi October 15, 2009 at 1:44 am #

    This is so outrageous! If I knew how to start a site like that, I would be doing it right now. Now I wish I was more tech savvy so I could help.

    Reading things like this really makes me want to move to a more reasonable country where we don’t try to ruin good kids lives by being mindless law followers. Where is a country that still has reason and sanity because thats where I want to live.

  2. progressboink October 15, 2009 at 1:47 am #

    Fifty years ago a shotgun in someone’s truck bed wouldn’t have caused a stir but now it’s cause for a school-wide lockdown.
    You aren’t allowed to carry pocket knives to school even though they’re useful tools in many instances and weren’t a problem before.
    And today kids get in trouble (even in high school) for bringing aspirin or Midol in their purses/pockets if they feel they need it. That’s right – MIDOL. I know this firsthand because a teacher saw me pop a couple when I started cramping one day in class years ago, confiscated the bottle and sent me to the nurse then the principal’s office. Even though the pills had “MIDOL” printed on them, and they were in the original container, it wasn’t allowed. How stupid.
    And now a tiny keychain knife in someone’s car is cause for panic, too?

    I’m sick of ignorant alarmists; I’m homeschooling my kids. I’ll PROVIDE them with pocket knives and they can use a knife at lunch…hell, I’ll let them cook their own lunch! And range time will be part of classtime, too.

  3. Jan October 15, 2009 at 1:56 am #

    Lenore: If son or mom has a Google/gmail account, they can start a website petition by going to Google documents

    typing “petition” in the search forms box and then creating and saving that “document” as publicly accessible to everybody who forwards the link to their friends/posts it on twitter/etc.

    It won’t be a nice clean URL like “helpmatthew” but it will be quick and FREE.

    Whether or not petitions of names actually help sway the pigheaded is another matter.

  4. Brian October 15, 2009 at 2:01 am #

    I don’t understand suspension. The kid is getting more and more behind in his school work. What exactly is the point of that?

    We used to have detention and extra long detention (and even Saturday night detention!). That was punishment! You sat around silently doing homework or reading, while your friends were outside playing and enjoying themselves. Every now and again one of those friends would throw a tennis ball against the window to remind you of what you were missing. But if they got caught doing such mischief, they’d be hauled in for detention also.

    Suspension? What does that do?

  5. irons October 15, 2009 at 2:14 am #

    The “Zero Tolerance” rules and strict keeping to letter of the law is so the administrators don’t have to think. It also helps shield the school and the administrators from lawsuits.

    Does this “strict adherence”, constant fear and fear mongering smack anyone in the face of McCarthyism levels of insanity?

  6. Azucar October 15, 2009 at 2:24 am #

    Wow, this makes me happy I let my cub scouts play with knives the other day.

  7. Shannon October 15, 2009 at 2:52 am #

    Kafka was right…

  8. Banshee October 15, 2009 at 2:54 am #

    @ Brian

    I’ve wondered the same thing. For most kids, all you’re doing is giving them a vacation. Only the kids who are uber worried about getting into a top university care about suspensions because of the effect it will have on their grades, and those kids are unlikely to do things that will get them suspended in most cases. Obviously this is one of the exceptions.

  9. somekindofmuffin October 15, 2009 at 2:58 am #


  10. Joette October 15, 2009 at 3:24 am #

    See, this is why I could never run a blog like this. My hat’s off to you, Lenore. Words fail.

  11. Ben October 15, 2009 at 3:43 am #

    So his car contained something in it that could be used as a weapon. Don’t all cars? Jacks? Lug wrenches? Cigarette lighters? Couldn’t use drive a car at people and hit them? Hell, people do that all the time. Not on purpose, no. But cars are inherently dangerous.

    And now you get in trouble for having a pocketknife in your car.

  12. pentamom October 15, 2009 at 3:48 am #

    “Hell, people do that all the time. Not on purpose, no.”

    Well, it happens on purpose, too. Not that often, but it does happen. The car itself is as much a weapon for someone who wants it to be as a knife could be.

  13. Katya October 15, 2009 at 3:51 am #

    This is an outrage. I’m a new mom of a one year old. I so scared to see what will happen when my son goes to school. These rules are insane. I’m wondering if private schools a bit more lax.

  14. Siphon October 15, 2009 at 4:07 am #

    While looking for more information on this incident, I noticed that it appears on many conservative blogs framed as a “Liberal/Democrat/Socialist attack on boy scouts” How irritating.

  15. Alexicographer October 15, 2009 at 4:08 am #

    “Hell, people do that all the time. Not on purpose, no.”

    Eh. I did. I was a college kid when my then-boyfriend wanted me to keep a gun in the car (he was of the “guns are protection” camp; I was of the “guns are dangerous” camp). I allowed as to how I didn’t want to do that but asked him to get me a flashlight that could be used to brain someone. I still carry nice big Maglights in all my vehicles.

  16. Tracey R October 15, 2009 at 4:24 am #

    It would be easy enough to set up a website on like the one you’ve already done. Is there a limit to the number of comments? There’s also a free petition website I seem to remember seeing. I would hope his parents or grandpa would set this up, or a close friend.

  17. tracelp October 15, 2009 at 4:29 am #

    I cannot believe the rank stupidity of these people enforcing these policies. Go after the mean kids, the bullies, and leave the Eagle Scout alone! It makes me good and mad that this boy’s future plans could be seriously jeopardised by such narrow thinking. And what does it achieve? NOTHING.

  18. Matthew Ellis October 15, 2009 at 4:31 am #

    That URL is already taken by the family of a Matthew diagnosed with a brain tumor.

  19. Dirk D October 15, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    From a military member currently, one suspension is highly unlikely to affect his acceptance to Westpoint, unless it causes his grades to dip. My vote is that he should take the month off and have his teachers Email him his assignments while he’s enjoying his “Suspension”

  20. aDad October 15, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    Wait, wait. This is a 17 year-old kid who drives a car to school? They trust him to drive a car but not with a 2″ knife that he left IN HIS GLOVE COMPARTMENT? If he was bragging about it to his friends (oh, I’m gonna cut up so-and-so) or brandishing it in school, ok, but it was in his freakin’ car in the parking lot.

    In another year or so, we’re going to trust him with an M-16 (and thank him profusely for helping to defend the country with it) for goodness’ sake. Intent people, it’s intent.

  21. Brenda October 15, 2009 at 5:27 am #

    So, my mother and I are worst case scenario types… In high school I had in the hatchback of my car: a regular jack, a small pump type jack (I think that’s what it was) a first aid kit including multiple medications, a two piece full shovel, a break glass hammer, seat belt knife, a baseball bat (included in everything we do as weapon of choice) food, snow boots and a blanket. I am sure that there was a utility knife thrown in there by my boyscout boyfriend.

    Oh yeah – this was on top of the jumper cables, washer fluid, and other fluids my car was always running out of – ahh, driving a junker… good times.

    I can only imagine this school’s reaction to my “arsenal”

    I really hope that someone starts a petition. There has to be a limit to the school’s reach and in my mind as long as he wasn’t making threats what he keeps in his car for utility purposes is his business. (of course as long as it is not an illegal substance, blah blah blah)

  22. MFA Grad October 15, 2009 at 5:40 am #

    The level of stupid exemplified in this story is just beyond words. Excuse me while I go and get an ice pack for my head, there’s only so many times it can take being banged onto my desk in frustration before risking head injury. Wait, does that make my desk a weapon, too? Curses!! I’ll just have to move my computer to the floor, then.

  23. KarenW October 15, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    It just occured to me that when I was in high school (late 1980’s) I carried a sharp knife with me all the time! I was an art student, and we frequently used Xacto knives and box cutters for matting our projects. How do art students get by without knives? And wow, it is disturbing to think that kids are getting suspended for what was once perfectly normal.

  24. Mad Woman October 15, 2009 at 6:05 am #

    Lenore…I’ve emailed you…..

    This is just silly. Poor kid.

  25. Joe October 15, 2009 at 7:54 am #

    I remember seeing a “zero tolerance” flyer around a decade ago and realizing how a literal reading of it would be unjust. There was even a 7th Heaven episode on the theme, but there it was but a day. 20 days sounds particularly excessive.

  26. Marta October 15, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    ridiculous! This is a good kid who should be honored not punished.

  27. Christy October 15, 2009 at 8:45 am #

    Oh my word. >.<

  28. exoteric October 15, 2009 at 9:00 am #

    I agree with aDad – what on Earth is this school thinking letting students drive to school!!!! How many more people are killed by cars each year than by knives? What is the school doing to stop him mowing down whole groups of students waiting for buses or walking to the shops or home after school? I guess they trust him to actually be responsible, God forbid!

    (All comments above should be interpreted as sarcastic, if you fail to see the sarcasm, try reading it again.)

  29. Molly Santa Croce October 15, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    This makes me physically sick too!! Zero tolerance can shove it where the sun don’t shine….

  30. Gail October 15, 2009 at 10:33 am #

    Call me suspicious, or overly paranoid, if you like but I’d like to hear more about how the school found out about this boy’s arsenal. He said he thought one of his friends said something, “as a prank”. Huh. Some prank. It strikes me that all students everywhere know about zero-tolerance policies and the consequences for violating them, so anyone with a bone to pick against another student has a ready-made way to get them in trouble.

  31. ChrisTheRed October 15, 2009 at 10:46 am #

    Any applicant to one of the service academies must have a nomination from VPOTUS, a US Senator, and/or a Member of Congress. Rather than start a website or a petition, may I suggest that a suitable authority figure (scoutmaster, clergyman, etc.) write a letter accompanying the request for a nomination explaining the situation? I’d warrant it would have more weight.

  32. Tray M. October 15, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    These people (the school district) are so stupid that they have a link to the sex offenders website on the district’s website!!! And NO email capability to contact school board members!!! Talk about paranoid and scared to communicate!

    I must agree with ChrisTheRed, a letter of the sort he suggests carries a lot of weight, but honestly, if this stays on Mathew’s record, it will cost him. I’ve been a part of at least 3 nominations, and it is so competitive that even a “gray mark” means a lot.

    It will take the same media pressure and contact that reversed the Zachary decision. So find a way to get in touch with your media and these folks who think zero-tolerance means something. It’s his only hope.

    Tray M.

  33. Diana Martinez October 15, 2009 at 6:59 pm #

    I would sign that petition! What idiots!!!!

  34. NJMom October 15, 2009 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi all…I still think this is GOOD news because it is so outrageous…there is nothing better than an Eagle Scout martyr!!!!!!! Let’s hope it gets the same media exposure because that is what will change attitudes. I will sign petition too.

  35. Into The Wild! October 15, 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    Heaven help us, the inmates are running the asylum!


    Exacto knife! I just bought one for my son (a required part of his college supply kit) just the other day, he’s suppose to have it for class. He’s also suppose to have his I.D. on a lanyard around his neck at all times. What if he gets stopped because they can’t see his I.D. and they find the exacto knife instead? Does that mean he gets kicked off campus for having a “weapon” that his professor “required” him to obtain? At this point, I’m considering having his professor write a note stating that he is required to bring the “weapon” with him to class and make the school and the professor deal with this conflicting dilemma.

  36. Evan October 16, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    If someone lives near that school, please go take down the license numbers of every car in their parking lot, then report them to the school board for having tire irons on school grounds.

  37. Sunny1 October 16, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    A fist in the hands of a “bad” kid is worse than a pen KNIFE (oooh, someone said knife) in the hands of a “good” kid.
    Please, oh please, let common sense come back! Or let’s just ban fists ’cause they are really mean and someone, somewhere COULD get hurt!!!

  38. NikkiC October 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    Please let us know if this petition comes available! I can place a link to it on my facebook page and get some signatures for them that way! I will also post it on my Blog!
    This is so ridiculous! Maybe West Point will see that?
    I hope so for his sake!

  39. Tracey R October 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm #

    The petition IS up–I think Lenore has a blog entry about it. I’ve already signed it.

  40. Tracey R October 16, 2009 at 10:21 pm #

    Here’s the link to the petition:

  41. EazieCheeze October 18, 2009 at 3:06 am #

    It makes me wish that some kid would start sneaking up behind his classmates and giving them paper cuts on the collarbone and back of the neck.

    When admonished, he should state that his action is a demonstration and that he will not stop until the district takes notice and these dangerous weapons are removed from our schools.

  42. gabster October 22, 2009 at 4:21 am #

    this outragouse