Posted at: 04/25/2014 5:50 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2014 6:18 PM
By: John Doetkott
Photo: ABC 6 News
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Last week, a police dog found a pocket knife in a locker during a routine check at United South Central High School in Wells, MN.
That locker belonged to Alyssa Drescher who said she brought it by mistake, but school officials said they have a zero tolerance weapons policy.
On Thursday night, the school board voted to expel the honor roll student for the remainder of the school year.
Friends and family packed the small classroom at United South Central on Thursday to show support for the 17-year-old Drescher.
The family requested the expulsion hearing be an open hearing, and the proceedings felt more like a criminal trial than a school board hearing.
After opening remarks, both sides called witnesses, with the school's liaison officer, principal, and superintendent all testifying that Drescher broke school policy by failing to come forward after she knew the knife was in her locker.
Drescher's lawyer argued that it was an honest mistake, that she forgot the knife was in her purse after using it for chores on her boyfriend’s farm the previous weekend.
Several teachers and coaches testified that Drescher was a model student.
After more than two hours of testimony, the board went into a closed session for more than an hour before reaching a decision.
In the end the board voted unanimously to expel Drescher for the rest of the school year.
Drescher and her friends were in tears following the ruling, and Alyssa's father Rick was too emotional to speak with ABC 6 after the hearing.
On Friday, he called the board's punishment excessive, saying while he supports zero tolerance, every case should be looked at individually.
"You don't expect things like this to happen to good kids,” Rick Drescher said. “It's wrong on so many levels, and the thing that people have to realize is, this isn't just Alyssa, it could happen to any kid. And that's what we need to stop."
On Friday, Superintendent Dr. Jerry Jensen said he supports the board's decision and considers the matter closed.
ABC 6 also called all of the school board members, and those who called back said data privacy prevents them from talking about the hearing publicly.
The family said they will be appealing the expulsion and are working to take legal action against the district, saying students' rights were violated.