GERMANTOWN, TN (abc24.com) – An apple a day keeps the doctor away. But a knife to peel that apple, at school, will keep a student out of class for a long time.
That is exactly what happened to a teenager at Germantown High School.
When Germantown High officials learned a 17-year-old female student had a small Pampered Chef pairing knife in her purse with a blade about two inches long, they called the cops.
It turned out all the girl was planning to do was cut up her apple for lunch. But, it didn't matter; she received a six month suspension anyway.
"One hundred eighty days- wow!" said Cindy Buck of Germantown when she was told of the suspension.
A statement from Shelby County Schools said, "According to the Student-Parent Handbook, this automatically calls for a 180-day suspension."
That seemed harsh to Cindy Buck for a small pairing knife, but she added, "She should not have had the knife at school."
The Germantown Police Department report stated that the student "mistakenly brought the knife to school to cut her apple for lunch."
But, some were unwilling to cur the girl any slack, even for a mistake.
"No, I don't think so," said Germantown resident Rodrika Thompson, "because violence is going on in schools every single day now."
The GPD report concluded in its report, "She did not show any intention of using the knife for any other reason than cutting her apple."
That made little difference to some.
"You don't ever know what you're going to do with a knife," Thompson told abc24.com, "and no one else does either."
"I think with each instance you have to look at each case individually," countered Germantown resident Tanya Wyne, "and this was obviously for a kid eating an apple."
Opinions did go back and forth.
Robert Silver thought 180 days seemed like too much punishment, but added a disclaimer.
"You know," said Silver, "we're in a day and time when you have to be careful. But yeah, that does seem like it's a bit over the top."
The Shelby County Schools statement did suggest the possibility of a shortened suspension. "Modification of the suspension can be made by representatives from the SCS Department of Student Services Disciplinary Hearing Authority," the district stated.
"Maybe they should revisit it." Buck told abc24.com.
"She's got her whole future ahead of her," Silver said, "she may have made a mistake but that could cost her a year in college."
But, while some wavered in their opinions, others remained steadfast.
"She shouldn't bring a knife to school and she knows that," said Thompson, "if you want to cut an apple, wait until you go home to eat it."
The girl who brought the knife to school was also issued a summons for carrying weapons on school property; the knife was seized as evidence.