FORT MYERS, Fla. – A National Merit Scholar was sent to jail and will miss graduation after a kitchen knife was found in her car and officials invoked a policy that forbids weapons on campus.
Lindsay Brown, an 18-year-old senior at Estero High School, spent Monday in jail on a felony charge of possession of a weapon on school property and suspended for five days.
Officials saw the knife on the floor of the passenger's side of Brown's car while she was in the school, a report said.
Brown will take her final exams Wednesday and will most likely get her diploma, but she will miss graduation activities and the May 29 commencement.
"They're taking away my memories," Brown said, as she walked out of the Lee County Jail on Monday afternoon after posting $2,500 bail.
"I'm so angry, I won't get to graduate with my friends because of a stupid kitchen knife."
The knife, which has a 5-inch blade, had been left in the car after Brown moved some possessions over the weekend, she said.
Brown said she didn't know it was there until school security and Lee County sheriff's Corporal John Scheall pointed it out to her.
Her family claims the arrest is a case of political correctness run amok.
"Lindsay is a good kid," said her mother Melissa Ashworth, who spent Monday trying to free her daughter from jail. "The punishment is too harsh; she didn't even know the knife was there."
Brown is scheduled to return to court June 22. Brown and her parents hope the arrest will not harm her academic scholarship to Florida Gulf Coast University.
Sheriff Lt. Bill Byrus said he sympathizes with Brown, but said the arrest is not up to the discretion of the officer or based on the student's behavior record.
"This young lady made a bad choice," Byrus said. "But, the statute says what she did meets the probable cause requirements for an arrest.
Lisa Luciani, a school district spokeswoman, said the district is still reviewing the arrest.