Detroit honor student Atiya Haynes suspended for rest of year

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High school senior Atiya Haynes said it was an “honest mistake.”

While attending her school’s homecoming football game, she forgot the pocketknife her grandfather gave her for protection was in her purse. The object was discovered by school officials, who searched through it after suspecting the 17-year-old may have been smoking pot in a school bathroom.

Haynes was not smoking marijuana, but she was suspended for the remainder of her senior year. Monday, her mandatory suspension was upheld by the district’s school board, according to MyFoxDetroit.

Haynes is an honor student at Annapolis High School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. She had pleaded with her school to make an exception to its zero tolerance policy toward possession of “weapons” on school grounds.

Haynes described the final decision to uphold her suspension as “disgusting.”  She will, however, be allowed to take classes online from home and graduate with her classmates in 2015.

The folding pocketknife, which school officials say had a 3.25 inch blade, was given to Haynes by her grandfather for protection in her southwest Detroit neighborhood. WDIV-TV reports Haynes has a 3.0 grade point average and “takes part in several school activities.”

Dearborn Heights School Superintendent Tim Thieken told reporters following the decision:

Every discipline issue that comes to us as a school board is a blow to a student. I think that [Haynes] presented her case tonight, but at the same time as a school board, we are upheld by the state of Michigan to uphold the laws of the state of Michigan, and we try to do everything we could within that framework to allow her to finish her education in the state of Michigan.

In a letter addressed to the District 7 School Board in Dearborn Heights before her final hearing, Haynes writes of the knife incident:

I did not have bad intentions; I’m a dedicated student, in advanced placement courses, dual-enrolled, I work two jobs and have aspirations beyond oratory expression. I just don’t want my efforts thus far to be cut short or even be terminal for such an incident like this. I understand the seriousness of the situation, but I just don’t want it to be my ultimate determining factor.

The letter, which was posted in full on The Periphery, describes Haynes as an “aspiring journalist” with hopes of attending Howard University.

The video below is WDIV-TV’s report on the suspension: 

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