WELLS, Minn. (WCCO) — A small southern Minnesota community is in an uproar after a popular student learned she can’t return to school for having a pocket knife in her locker.
Alyssa Drescher, 17, cried Thursday night when the school board in Wells, Minn., announced its unanimous decision to expel her for the rest of the year.
“I don’t want to get expelled. I’m a good kid,” she said. “I just thought it was too harsh of punishment.”
Now many are left to question the school’s zero tolerance policy.
In the home of the Rebels, it would seem Alyssa is anything but.
“Honestly, you can’t ask for a better kid and a better student,” said her father, Rick Drescher.
The junior at United South Central was facing a bright future when a random drug search by police dogs 10 days ago detected something in Alyssa’s locker.
“They smelled perfume, and they had to check my purse and they found my pocket knife,” she said.
Alyssa says she’d forgotten about the knife after using it on her boyfriend’s farm for chores.
“It was a mistake,” she said. “Everyone makes mistakes.”
Her expulsion has captured the attention of her small community. What started as a three-day suspension from the principal led to a call from the superintendent and a 12-month expulsion.
At a school board meeting Thursday night in Wells, members voted to keep Alyssa from school for the rest of the year.
The superintendent says the school district’s zero tolerance policy left them no choice.
The backlash has been strong in support of Alyssa.
A Facebook page supporting her has more than 1,700 followers, and many stories about her character. One of those is from Ryan Lacher.
He said Alyssa quickly took his side after he was bullied at school.
“She really helped me know there are people who do care,” he said.
Alyssa is worried what this will mean for her college career.
Meanwhile, her supporters are questioning a policy Alyssa’s father believes isn’t making kids any safer at school.
“Definitely going to fight it,” Rick Drescher said. “Now, it’s not just about Alyssa, it’s about the other kids.”
Under school rules, if Alyssa told police about the knife before it was found, she wouldn’t be expelled. Her family has a lawyer and will appeal the district’s decision.
The superintendent did not return calls for comment and neither did the school board members.