Education
Swiss Army knife. Photo: Tony Bandermann for The Daily Caller Swiss Army knife. Photo: Tony Bandermann for The Daily Caller  

Fifth-grader suspended at overnight nature camp for bringing Swiss Army knife

A fifth-grader in Cupertino, California was suspended and threatened with expulsion for bringing a small Swiss Army knife on a school-sponsored, science-oriented camping trip.

In early April, Braden Bandermann’s class set off on Garden Gate Elementary School’s annual, week-long pilgrimage for fifth-graders to the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco.

Before leaving, Braden did what any Silicon Valley 10-year-old faced with the perils of nature might do: He packed his trusty Swiss Army knife. As any camper knows, the multi-tool device is nothing if not versatile. Braden’s particular model contains a can opener, tweezers, a toothpick, a nail file, a tiny pair of scissors and a small blade.

The little blade landed the boy in big trouble.

“They called me,” explained Tony Bandermann, Braden’s father. “They said, ‘You have to come and get him. He has a weapon. He needs to be suspended or possibly expelled.’”

At the time, the elder Bandermann was on a business trip in Sacramento, roughly 100 miles away. His wife, Braden’s stepmother, was at the camp with Braden, but they had arrived by bus and had no private transportation. (Braden’s mother was also unable to go to the camp so that he could serve a suspension.)

The school principal, Brandi Hucko, allegedly wanted Bandermann to rush to the site of the science camp, pick Braden up for a one-day suspension and then deliver him back to camp.

Bandermann told The Daily Caller that he was frustrated over Hucko’s insistence “that I risk my job and go get him out of the program for a one-day suspension all over a Swiss Army knife.”

The multi-tool instrument did not present a threat, Bandermann believes.

“I went to the very same trip when I was a child at the same school, and I had a very similar Swiss Army knife,” he said. “In fact, most of the kids did.”

Principal Hucko disagreed. According to Bandermann, she was adamant that punishment must be swift and severe.

Consequently, Bandermann told TheDC, school officials forced Braden to serve a one-day suspension at camp. He was allegedly isolated in a teacher’s lounge area from all the other children. He was forced to eat meals by himself. He was forced to sleep in an area separate from all the other children. He missed an entire day of activities.

Bandermann believes school officials overreacted.

“This is not Sandy Hook,” he said. “Get real. He brought a stupid Swiss Army knife to camp.”

Bandermann said that he suggested to Hucko that perhaps someone could take away the knife and discipline his son once he was returned to the urban comfort of Silicon Valley. However, Hucko would not negotiate.

The Cupertino Union School District would not respond to questions from The Daily Caller. School district representative Jeremy Nishihara said answering questions would violate Braden’s privacy.