A sixth-grader has been suspended for 10 days because the 10-inch chain on her Tweety bird wallet violates the school district’s zero-tolerance weapons policy.
Ashley Smith, an 11-year-old student at Garrett Middle School in suburban Atlanta, received the maximum punishment Tuesday. The chain connects her wallet to her key rings.
“It’s only a little chain, and I don’t think it can really hurt anyone,” said Ashley, who maintains her own Tweety Web site.
Because her suspension is “short-term,” Ashley cannot appeal, assistant superintendent Tony Arasi said. School officials said Ashley and her parents, Raymond and Carmen Smith, knew chains were banned.
Smith said the suspension “lacks common sense.”
“A little piece of chain is not a deadly weapon,” he said.
At the beginning of the school year, students were shown samples of items they could not bring to school. Ashley said she saw a chain about 2 feet long and much thicker than the chain on her wallet.
“They shouldn’t have jumped to immediately suspend her,” said Gerry Weber, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Georgia chapter. He called the suspension “zero-tolerance gone awry.”
The ACLU successfully represented Atlanta student Rose Marie Spearman in 1994 after she was charged with criminal weapons possession for bringing African tribal knives to school for extra credit.