Lansingburgh Senior High School student Matthew Whalen said he was suspended for 20 days under the school district's Codes of Conduct when school officials learned of the 2-inch pocket knife in his car, WTEN-TV in Albany, N.Y., reported Thursday.
"My car is designed in a way that if I ever broke down, I'd be OK," Whalen said.
The school suspension last month is a rare negative mark against Whalen, who has completed Army basic training as part of his goal of attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Whalen is also on the honor roll and was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America and the city of Troy for saving a woman's life last summer.
Whalen's father, Bryan, told WTEN he was upset to learn of his son's punishment.
"I want him to have fair treatment based on his character," the elder Whalen said. "It just totally baffles me that they would go after this when they have much bigger fish to fry."