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Schools' zero-tolerance policies tested

By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

Parents and elected officials across the USA are demanding that schools slacken zero-tolerance policies that are meant to reduce violence because strict adherence has lead to some students being forced out of school for bringing items such as eyebrow trimmers and a Cub Scout's camping tool to campus.

The most recent high-profile case involved Zachary Christie, a 6-year-old who was suspended for five days on Sept. 29 after he brought a camping utensil that was part knife, fork and spoon to Downes Elementary in Newark, Del. School officials considered it a dangerous instrument and suspended the boy, adding that he couldn't return to Downes until he completed at least 45 days at an alternative school.

"I think it's crazy that they don't use common sense," says Debbie Christie, Zachary's mother and the school's PTA co-president.

As news of Zachary's case spread, the school began to receive hundreds of calls protesting its decision.

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