PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Sikh students may wear a small, religious dagger to school in the Plymouth-Canton Public Schools, the Detroit Free Press reported, as the school board reversed a ban it put in place in December after a fourth-grade boy was found with such a knife.

Called kirpans, the daggers are a religious symbol that baptized Sikh males are expected to carry, according to the Free Press. In Sikh tradition, the dagger represents a commitment to fight evil, the Free Press reported. There are at least three Sikh centers in western Wayne County.

The new policy allows students to wear a kirpan to school if the blade is dull, is no longer than 2.25 inches and is sewn into a sheath in such a way that the blade cannot be removed from the sheath, according to the Free Press. At that size, the object does not constitute a dangerous weapon under the Revised School Code, the Press reported.

A note sent to parents said that the new rules recognize the need for safety but also the right to practice one's religion, according to the Free Press.

SOURCE:
Detroit Free Press, "Sikh students can wear dagger in Plymouth-Canton schools, but with modifications," Jan. 31, 2011

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Zero-tolerance policies aim to reduce school violence: But critics doubt rules' efficacy," Dec. 13, 2001

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