8th-grader suspended after doing ‘the right thing’ with knife brought to Brownsville Area Middle School


A student received a three-day suspension and a citation after he said he accidentally brought a pocket knife to Brownsville Area Middle School on Monday.

Thomas Ross Jr., 13, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that he used the knife to help his father open a cardboard box and set up a futon Sunday night before putting it back in his pocket.

Ross said he wore the same shorts to school Monday, then realized during second period that the knife was still with him.

Ross said he immediately asked to go to the office, where he told the secretary and principal that he had accidentally brought a pocket knife to school.

Ross’ father said he got a phone call from the school and was told that Thomas had been suspended for three days and would also be receiving a citation.

“There’s a first-degree murder and a third-degree murder. There’s no such thing as zero tolerance in the world,” Thomas Ross Sr. said. “Why is there zero tolerance on a child bringing a weapon by accident to school and then doing the right thing and turning it in?”

Ross Sr. said his son had never been in trouble before at school and had not been suspended or cited previously.

He said he was told that a longer 10-day suspension would be considered at an informal hearing on the matter to be held Thursday with school administrators.

“When he realized he had it, he turned it in,” Ross Sr. said. “He’s a typical kid. Don’t discipline a child for doing the right thing.”

“I was scared that if I were to get it caught with it on me, it would have been worse than me turning it in,” Ross Jr. said.

Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reporter Beau Berman contacted the Brownsville Area School District to request an interview and ask for comment.

“The safety and well-being of our students and staff is paramount,” Superintendent Keith Hartbauer said. “We will follow our district’s policy, procedures, and solicitor’s recommendation regarding this discipline incident.”

By phone, Hartbauer said that district policy mandates an automatic three-day suspension when a student brings a weapon onto the school campus. He stressed that more information would be gathered at the hearing later this week, and said he would be in contact with the district solicitor.