Page last updated at 02:40 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 03:40 UK

Boy punished for cutlery breach

Zachary Christie
Zachary brought in the set to use to eat his lunch

A six-year-old American schoolboy will be suspended after bringing his favourite camping cutlery to school.

Zachary Christie took out the combination knife, fork and spoon at lunch, in violation of the school policy of not bringing in knives.

The school had originally said Zachary should spend 45 days at an alternative school for troublemakers.

But after a meeting, the board voted instead to suspend Zachary for between three and five days.

Downes Elementary School, in Newark, Delaware, operates a zero tolerance policy on knives, banning them as dangerous instruments.

Officials said they were forced to act regardless of Zachary's age or what he planned to do with the knife, the Associated Press reported.

"Politically, zero tolerance is what everybody clamours for, until we start to realise how harsh zero tolerance can be," School board member John Mackenzie told AP ahead of the vote.

But the seven-member board voted unanimously to reduce the punishment for the school's youngest students.

In other cases school officials have ignored the policy and Mr Mackenzie said he was surprised this had not happened in Zachary's case.

Zachary and his mother supported the policy but were unhappy with its implementation, saying the punishment had been too harsh.

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