An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.
“She got pulled into it. She doesn’t have to be a bad person to be searched,” Smithwick’s father, Joe Smithwick, said.
The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.
“It’s just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple,” he said.
The short answer here, of course, is that the girl did not have a weapon -- she had a tool, namely an eating utensil. Secondly, it is clear that she did not have any intent to actually bring the knife to school. What you have is a foolish administration applying a blanket rule designed to cover asses rather than actually handle a situation in a manner that is appropriate to the facts of the case.
I commented on such matters a few years ago, and what I said then remains true today.
[I]n the interest of making sure that no parent complains that their child has been discriminated against after their child starts hacking up classmates with a samurai sword, possession of anything that bears a vague resemblance to a dangerous weapon (including a harmless kitchen utensil) must be banned and harshly punished.
I'm glad my state dealt with this sort of situation legislatively several years ago.