Chicago teacher sues over pocket knife suspension

April 18, 2013 at 12:30 PM

CHICAGO, April 18 (UPI) -- A Chicago teacher's lawsuit alleges he was suspended for showing his second graders a pocket knife "as part of a curriculum-mandated 'tool discussion.'"

Douglas Bartlett, who was suspended without pay from Washington Irving Elementary School during the 2011-2012 school year, filed a federal lawsuit against Chicago School District No. 299 and principal Valeria Newell, the Courthouse News Service reported Thursday.

The suit calls the suspension of Bartlett, a 17-year veteran of the school district, a case of "overzealous application of political correctness."

"Plaintiff, a school teacher, showed to his students a pocket knife, as part of a curriculum-mandated 'tool discussion,'" the lawsuit states. "Other garden-variety tools plaintiff used in the discussion were a box cutter, various wrenches, screwdrivers, and pliers. As a result of showing a pocket knife, plaintiff was charged with bringing a weapon to school, and received a four-day suspension without pay. Plaintiff sues for money damages and to have this suspension expunged from his record."

The suit alleges Bartlett's Fourth Amendment rights were violated when he was given the penalty.

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