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Described by family, friends and even school officials as an exceptional student and citizen, United South Central High School junior Alyssa Drescher was nonetheless expelled Thursday night for the rest of the school year after a pocket knife was found in her purse on April 15 during a school-wide drug search.
Wells, Minn. -
A junior at United South Central is expelled for the rest of the school year.
School officials found a pocketknife in the purse of Alyssa Drescher during a locker search last week, and voted unanimously last night to kick her out of school.
Last night's expulsion hearing was unique in that Alyssa's father, Rick, asked for it to be open to the public, allowing her supporters and the media to view the proceedings.
What followed would be a rough approximation of a court case, with a lawyer for the school district administration laying out his case in calling for Alyssa's expulsion from USC.
The USC attorney, Trevor Helmers says, "People frequently ask of us what are schools doing to make sure our children are safe to go there. Adopting and strictly enforcing policies prohibiting weapons and punishing students from bringing weapons onto school property is what we're doing to make it safe."
Helmers would call on the school liaison officer and principal Kelly Schlaak to detail how the pocketknife was found in Alyssa's purse after the school brought in a drug-sniffing dog to search the student's lockers while they put the school on lockdowlock down
strict has an amnesty policy of sorts, allowing students to alert officials to a weapon they have in their possession to avoid punishment, and Helmers said that because Alyssa had the chance to tell her teacher about the knife while the lockdown lock downlace, her actions warranted an expulsion.
Alyssa had a lawyer at the proceeding as well, and had a teacher, the school athletic director and her employer testify on her behalf.
When it was her turn to speak, she acknowledged the error she had made, and said she would accept punishment... but was deeply frightened at what the black mark of expulsion could do to her dream of attending college.
Alyssa Drescher says, "Everyone says that your senior year is the best and not I'm terrified I'm going to miss out on mine. And especially being able to get into a good college and have a bright future ahead of me."
The biggest point of contention in the hearing revolved around the district's stance that it was just following its zero-tolerance weapons policy, but Alyssa's attorney, Chris Johnson, pointed out that other students that were found with lighters, also a considered a weapon under the school's zero-tolerance policy, and were not subject to expulsion.
A point he hammered home in his cross-examination of school superintendent Jerry Jensen.
Jensen replied, "We do have a zero-tolerance policy. But with that policy we do have flexibility to make judgments on how much danger people are in."
But in the end, after two hours of testimony and an hour of deliberation, the USC school board voted unanimously to against Alyssa.
Her attorney says it isn't over yet.
Chris Johnson says, "Clearly in this case the punishment doesn't meet the crime. We believe this punishment is unjustly harsh and unfair and we will fight."