Madison Sixth-Grader Faces Expulsion Over Science Project
Boy Needed Knife To Cut Onion For Project
POSTED: 8:34 p.m. CST April 4, 2002

News 3 has learned a Cherokee sixth-grader could be expelled for a year, after bringing a kitchen knife to school for a science project. He needed it to cut an onion.

District officials consider this a no brainer. There is "no tolerance" for weapons in school.

However, Chris Schmidt (pictured right), 12, considered the knife a kitchen utensil -- not a weapon.

Schmidt's a straight-A sixth-grader -- he loves school, music and sports, and went to the nation's Capitol as a member of the School Safety Patrol.

"He's never gotten into trouble," his mom, Nete Schmidt, said. "He's always been labeled as exceptional: bright, a joy go be with, a pleasure to work with, an exceptional athlete, just a positive influence; a role model."

He's been suspended and at home for three weeks now.

Other parents say the school has gone too far and have started a petition drive to get him reinstated.

"Most of us parents are concerned that it just as easily could have been one of our children," Lynn Parker told News 3.

His principal is recommending a one-year expulsion.

"My reaction was, 'This is ridiculous. Are you kidding me?' And she said, no, her hands were tied, and she told me I could call Valencia Douglas, who's the assistant superintendent," Nete (pictured left) said.

Douglas told News 3 that kids make mistakes.

"But we can't say, 'You're a good kid, so your mistake doesn't have as much force, or importance behind it as a kid with other issues,'"Douglas (pictured lower left) said.

Chris' father, Larry Jorgenson, reportedly said that district officials unofficially told the family that Chris would be eligible to return to school if he admits he committed a "crime," submits to a psychological evalution and completes an anger management course.

Chris said he hopes the school officials will change their minds and let him come back to school.

"I never thought it would go this far, and I've just been sad over it," he said. Nete says her son is being traumatized by this.

"I want to tell the ones in power, he's missing his social life, he's missing his intellectual stimuli. He's missing everything -- please get him back in school as soon as possible,' she said.

Right now, it appears the earliest shot Schmidt may go back would be after the first week of May. That's when the school board is scheduled to take up his case.