Several stories have come through Field Notes this year about high school students who absent-midedly leave a hunting rifle or shotgun in their vehicle, thereby violating their school’s zero-tolerance weapons policy, landing them with a suspension or even expulsion. An expulsion was overturned in California early this year and some Michigan teens were suspended in November. Here’s another forgetful young hunter in Montana who finds herself in a similar circumstance.

From this story on
_On the morning of Dec.1, Demari DeReu drove to Columbia Falls High School in Montana and parked her blue-green Honda Accord in the lot, just as she does every morning. The 16-year-old honor roll student, class treasurer and varsity cheerleader walked in to school, forgetting entirely about the unloaded hunting rifle locked in the trunk of her car.

Later that day, there was an announcement telling students contraband sniffing dogs were scouting the parking lot, sparking her memory. She immediately told administrators that she’d forgotten to remove her scoped hunting rifle from the trunk following a Thanksgiving family hunting excursion. She was suspended from school for violating federal and state gun laws.
_On Monday, the school board will convene for a hearing to decide the fate and academic future of the high school junior, who recently was voted most dedicated cheerleader by her teammates and coach.

DeReu’s supporters say her future success may be harmed irrevocably because of one mistake and a school board’s lack of common sense, and they have been sending e-mails en masse and campaigning to garner support from around the region, and across the country.

But the school district superintendent, Mike Nicosia, says the entire issue has been blown out of proportion and that the school board members will be fair and wouldn’t ruin the future of the bright honors student. He blamed outside influences for turning the whole thing into a circus.

The drama continues.

On Friday morning DeReu and her newly retained attorney are scheduled to hold a news conference outside the family’s home.

When reached by phone, Scott DeReu, her father, described his daughter as an avid deer and elk hunter.

“She got a couple of deer,” he said. “Never an elk…they’re tough to find.”

He declined to talk specifically about his daughter’s issue.

And her supporters vow to descend Monday upon the school district building to protest during the school board hearing.

DeReu’s high school has a zero tolerance policy about guns on campus — in a accordance with both state and federal law — and could lose funding under the terms of the federal Gun Free School Act if the law is not enforced.

State criminal law also prevents weapons from being brought into schools and provides for leniency on a case-by-case basis; DeReu did not bring the gun into school, but it was in the school parking lot, which falls under the purviews of the federal law.

Violators of the federal law face no less than a year expulsion — but the law provides some wiggle room, allowing school boards to show leniency on a case-by-case basis._