In the latest incident of anti-weapon hysteria to erupt in a school setting, officials at a middle school in South Florida have suspended an 11-year-old girl for six days because she brought a child-proof, toddler-size cutlery knife to school and used it to cut a peach in half for a friend.
Astonishingly, local police are now investigating the fact that a little girl cut a piece of fruit with a tiny knife at school. She faces the possibility of criminal charges.
The incident leading to the girl’s fruit-based suspension occurred recently in the cafeteria at Silver Trail Middle School in the Miami suburb of Pembroke Pines, reports Miami ABC affiliate WPLG.
The unidentified girl was preparing to eat the peach. A friend asked her for half of it. The girl then used her harmless toddler knife to cut the peach and share it with her friend.
“She goes to the bathroom and comes back and the guy said, ‘Follow me,'” the girl’s father, Ronald Souto, told WPLG.
“This is a set of a spoon, fork and knife for toddlers — one year old,” the girl’s mother, Andrea Souto, added. “It is made for children to learn how to eat properly. She’s used it since she was baby.”
Ronald Souto said he was confused and outraged at the punishment his daughter received — not to mention the looming possibility of criminal charges.
“There’s no one there trying to educate and to be reasonable to say, ‘Let’s work this out,'” he told the station.
“She’s afraid now of the educators. She’s afraid of people at school. They need to change the system,” he said.
The furious father also noted that his daughter is an honor-roll student, and a good kid.
“She’s always trying to help someone. She’s always trying to share things.”
School officials say they suspended the girl for six days — and notified police — because she violated a countywide weapons policy when she used the toddler knife to cut a peach in half for her friend.
“The school followed district policy regarding this incident and continues to work with the student and parents involved,” a Broward County school district spokeswoman said in a statement obtained by WPLG. “It is the district’s priority to maintain safe and secure campuses for students and staff at all times.”
The Pembroke Pines Police Department told WPLG it has handed the fruit crime investigation over the to the local Florida State Attorney’s office.
An attorney representing the Souto family, Larry Meltzer, said he was shocked at the suspension and resulting police investigation.
“The school board has abused its discretion to act in this case,” Meltzer told the Miami ABC station. “It is tragic that a school that this little girl loves sees fit to prosecute and suspend her — the epitome of a model and honor roll student — for using a child-proof utensil that could never be construed in any form as a weapon in order to share part of her lunch with a fellow classmate.”
“She should be applauded for her generosity, kindness and for her motivation to be a great student in all senses of that word,” the attorney also said.
The incident in Pembroke Pines is the latest incident in a long trend involving school officials going apoplectic over things that are not weapons but sort of resemble weapons because of zero-tolerance policies.
The quintessentially absurd story involving school officials reacting hysterically to an object that is not a weapon occurred at Park Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland when a little boy was suspended for two days because his teacher thought he shaped a strawberry, pre-baked toaster pastry into something resembling a gun. (RELATED: Second-Grader Suspended For Having Pop-Tart Shaped Like A Gun)
NEXT PAGE: Even More Zero Tolerance Nonsense
Officials at an elementary school in small-town Michigan impounded a third-grade boy’s batch of 30 homemade birthday cupcakes because they were adorned with green plastic figurines representing World War Two soldiers. The school principal branded the military-themed cupcakes “insensitive” in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. (RELATED: School Confiscates Third-Grader’s Cupcakes Topped With Toy Soldiers)
At Roscoe R. Nix Elementary School in Maryland, a 6-year-old boy was suspended for making the universal kid sign for a gun, pointing at another student and saying “pow.” That boy’s suspension was later lifted and his name cleared after a local attorney intervened. (RELATED: Pow! You’re Suspended, Kid)
In Calvert County, Maryland, a kindergarten boy was suspended from school for 10 days because he showed a friend his plastic, orange-tipped, cowboy-style cap gun on the way to school. The incident happened on a school bus. The boy later wet his pants during a lengthy interrogation, his mother said. (RELATED: Kindergartener Interrogated Over Cap Gun Until He Pees His Pants, Then Suspended 10 Days)
A six-year-old boy was punished because he took a plastic Lego gun roughly the size of a quarter on a school bus headed to Old Mill Pond Elementary School in Palmer, Mass. (RELATED: Kindergartener Gets Detention, Forced To Apologize For Tiny Lego Gun)
An eighth grader in West Virginia was suspended and arrested after he refused to remove a t-shirt supporting the National Rifle Association. The courageous 14-year-old then returned to school wearing exactly the same shirt, which depicts a hunting rifle with the statement “protect your right.” (RELATED: Eighth-Grader Arrested Over NRA Shirt Returns To School In Same Shirt)
At Genoa-Kingston Middle School in northeast Illinois, a teacher threatened an eighth grader with suspension if he did not remove his t-shirt emblazoned with the interlocking rifles insignia of the United States Marines. (RELATED: Junior High Teacher Tells Kid To Remove Marines T-Shirt Or Get Suspended)
At Poston Butte High School in Arizona, a high school freshman was suspended for setting a picture of a gun as the desktop background on his school-issued computer. (RELATED: Freshman Suspended For Picture Of Gun)
At an elementary school in Philadelphia, school officials reportedly yelled at a young female student and then searched her in front of her class after she was found with a crude paper gun her grandfather had made for her. (RELATED: Paper Gun Causes Panic)
In rural Pennsylvania, a kindergarten girl was suspended after she told another girl that she planned to shoot her with a pink Hello Kitty toy gun that bombards targets with soapy bubbles. (RELATED: Kindergartener Suspended For Making ‘Terroristic Threat’ With Hello Kitty Bubble Gun)