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Can I sue the Buffalo Public School for interrogating my 9 year old son and formally suspending him primarily based on here-say?

Buffalo, NY |

My son brought replicas of knives to school to show them to his friends. They had no blade, tip, or sharpness as they were only "display" replicas. The next day, the parent of one of the students on the bus called to complain, calling them knives, saying her son was threatened. My son was interrogated for hours at the school before I was notified of the situation. I was told he pulled the knives out and threatened a kids life with them on the bus. I was lied to, as they said they had proof of this. When questioned, I found out the only proof is here-say from a few 9 year olds on the bus. The bus camera doesn't show my son pulling the replica's out on anyone with intent to cause harm. Bringing them for show is a lot different then bringing them with the intent to cause harm!

Attorney Answers 2


  1. You can sue for anything. The question is whether you will win or not. Replica knives can hurt or kill if enough force is used. I'm sure under your school district's 'zero tolerance" policy, the mere bringing of a knife metal replica or real is sufficient to support a suspension. Depending on the length of the suspension, it may not b worth challenging, although you may want to make sure that the basis "is brought replica knife to school" rather than "threatened child's life". Either way, you'll need an education attorney. You can check Avvo or call your local bar association.

    If you'd like to discuss, please feel free to call. Jeff Gold Gold, Benes, LLP 1854 Bellmore Ave Bellmore, NY 11710 Telephone -516.512.6333 Email - Jgold@goldbenes.com


  2. Schools are very rigid at the moment in enforcing the zero tolerance weapons policy. Post-Sandy Hook, this position was foreseeable and inevitable, and it is likely to be the case for some time to come. We are seeing 6-year olds sent home for going "bang" with their index fingers.

    The point is, however, that zero tolerance means just that. Weapons -- real ones, pretend ones, replicas, substitutes, modifieds, etc. -- need to stay home, ALL of them. There is not a school in the country that is willing to stand down on this issue right now. So, yes, you can hire a lawyer and throw a bunch of money at this. Very likely you will not succeed in anything worthwhile. Schools are allowed under the law to act on the basis of hearsay if the info has other indicia of reliable -- and yours does because the offense is possession at school, not inflicting injury on a specific victim. Your better course, IMHO, is to hire a master diplomat and walk your kid out of this with the smallest and least permanent-record discipline that the school can be persuaded to accept. I would start with a weekend of trash picking-up on school grounds and a sincere open letter of apology, and work up in very small increments from there.

    And leave the weapons and almost-weapons home all the time from now on, no exceptions, no excuses.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.