WELLS, Minnesota-- Support is growing for a Southern Minnesota honor student expelled after a bringing a pocket knife to school.
Alyssa Drescher,17, was expelled for the rest of the school year after the United South Central school board in Wells, Minnesota voted unanimously for the punishment. The district has a zero tolerance weapons policy that recommends three to five days suspension and possible expulsion.
On April 15, an unannounced locker search with drug sniffing dogs uncovered a pocket knife in her purse Drescher said accidentally left it in her purse after doing farm chores at her boyfriend's farm.
Her father, Rick Drescher, said in a rural area, a pocket knife is a tool commonly carried by many students. He purchased the knife for his daughter from Menards, with a camouflage handle and 2 ¾ inch blade. Alyssa Drescher said the dogs were attracted to the perfumes and lotions in her locker, and that's how administrators found the knife.
"I just threw it in my purse after helping with my boyfriend after chores on Sunday," said Drescher. "Even though I forgot it, I still needed the punishment."
Drescher did not expect an explusion, which the school board said could have lasted 12 months.
A Facebook page in support of Drescher is growing towards 4,000 likes, more than twice the people in the town of Wells. Supporters are also putting up pink camouflage ribbons, Dresher's favorite color, in her honor. Around 50 people held a protest outside the school. Two weeks into her expulsion, the punishment weighs heavily on Drescher, who said she enjoys school.
"I am still thinking about it and crying every day," said Drescher. "I have never had a detention in my life and I get good grades."
A student with high academic record now worries the forgotten pocket knife could leave long term wounds, and could reflect poorly on college application. Drescher said she is also banned from attending prom along with any school event, such as athletic games. Her family is appealing the school board's decision.
"We totally believe there should be a punishment. If you break a rule there should be a consequence. But it's a got to be a minimum consequence and let it build up. Like in a court of law," said her father Rick Drescher. "The school could have had discretion but they chose to hide behind the zero tolerance law. For a good student, a good kid that has always made right choices, this is detrimental to her."
Superintendent Jerry Jensen, along with an attorney for the district, Trevor Helmers, said they couldn't comment on disciplinary rulings, citing state data privacy laws.
"She feels betrayed by the school," said Rick Drescher.