Minnesota Student Expelled Over Knife Wins Appeal Case

| by Maura Turcotte

A Minnesota girl who forgot to leave her farm knife at home when she went to high school one day and was consequently expelled is finding herself very lucky.

In April 2014, Alyssa Drescher was just a junior in high school when she was expelled. Drug-sniffing dogs on campus brought Drescher’s locker to attention, reportedly for perfume. However, when officials searched through her locker, they found a pocket knife.

Although Drescher claimed she had forgotten to take the knife out of her purse after doing chores on her boyfriend’s family’s dairy farm that morning, the school still swiftly enacted their punishment.

Upset, Drescher decided to appeal her expulsion to the state education commissioner. Her appeal lay with the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, which stipulates that schools can expel students as long as there is a “willful violation” of a policy or “willful conduct” that affects other students, disrupting or endangering them in some way, reports FOX9.

Over a year after the incident occurred, Drescher’s appeal was accepted. The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the school district had no right to expel Drescher.

While the school district claimed that it was just following the policy that “no student … shall possess, use or distribute a weapon when in a school location,” the Court decided that Alyssa did not engage in a “willful violation” of the policy and there was no ill-intent with the knife.

The Court also argued that the knife, tucked away in her purse in her locker, did not pose a danger to other students, according to FOX9.

Upon the decision, Drescher is incredibly grateful. "It was kind of like a relief," she said to KARE 11, according to Valley News Live. "It's just like finally over with."

While she was able to graduate from high school this year, Drescher, who was often on the honor roll of her high school and had never even served detention before, thought the punishment she received was too extreme. Beside being expelled for the rest of her junior year, she could not attend her junior prom or even her boyfriend’s baseball games.

"It's not fair to any of the kids," her father said of the strict punishment policies of the school district. "It's destroying kids' lives."

Sources: FOX9, Valley News Live / Photo Source: Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune