Zero tolerance taken too far

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (WAVY) – The mother of a Virginia Beach middle school student says a “zero tolerance” policy was taken too far when her daughter did what she thought was right to help a classmate.

Last Thursday at Bayside Middle School, sixth grader Adrionna Harris came to the aide of a classmate who was cutting his arm. She faces expulsion for taking a razor from the student, throwing it away and convincing him what he was doing wasn’t right. She thought she was doing the right thing, so on Friday she told the school administration what happened.

Instead of getting praise from the school administration, Adrionna got a ten day suspension with recommendation for expulsion. The interesting thing – the only reason Adrionna got suspended was because she admitted what happened. The alleged weapon was thrown away, and it was her word alone that led to her suspension.

“I was shocked and surprised. I was very shocked that a student would get suspended for saving another child,” said Rachael Harris, Adrionna’s mother. “The school system over-reached absolutely.”

The school’s own details of the event state Adrionna reported the student had a razor blade. She admitted taking it from the student then throwing the blade away.

“I took the razor blade, and then I threw it away immediately. I didn’t carry it around the school. I didn’t use it against anyone, I threw it away,” she said.

“I felt she did the right thing,” said Rachael Harris. “Under the circumstances, she thought he would bleed out, as he was cutting himself, and there was no teacher in sight. It was a 911 situation, and there wasn’t time to find a teacher.”

We asked Adrionna, if she would do the same thing again, knowing she would get suspended for holding the blade.

“Even if I got in trouble, it didn’t matter because I was helping him … I would do it again even if I got suspended, yes,” she said.

Most frustrating to the Harris family is they feel like they were ignored — none of their calls were returned about the incident. WAVY-TV called school board members, who didn’t want to comment, but calls finally came in to the Harris family.

“It is amazing. They are listening to us now, she should be back in school tomorrow and that would be fair,” said Rachael Harris.

Wednesday night, Virginia Beach City Public Schools agreed to do something that makes the Harris family really happy — they’ve moved Adrionna’s suspension hearing, which was supposed to be in ten days, to Thursday.

The Harris family hopes after the hearing, where everything is explained again, that Adrionna will be allowed back to class on Friday or at the latest Monday.

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