The three member review board sided with Pensacola High School principal Norm Ross, who wants Tawana Dawson expelled for a year under a zero-tolerance weapons policy.
The sophomore's parents, Darryl and Eula Beaton, say they will seek a formal hearing before the case goes to the Escambia County School Board for a decision. If expelled, she could attend an alternative school for children with disciplinary problems.
Tawana, who already has served a 10-day suspension, told the panel she did not realize the 2-inch foldout attachment was a knife. She said she thought it was a nail-cleaning blade. She also said she didn't know that another foldout device was a combination can and bottle opener.
"You are going to need to take the pencils out of the school, the scissors out of the school," the teen's father told Ross after he questioned the principal.
Ross acknowledged scissors are used in art classes and scalpels and dissecting knives in laboratories at the school, but said that it is different from a student bringing a weapon to school. The question remains are nail clippers a weapon?
In defense of zero tolerance, Ross recalled the stabbing deaths of two students while he was an administrator at their schools during the past seven years.
The victim and assailant in each case were girls and both incidents occurred after school. An Escambia High School student died after being stabbed in the throat with a pocketknife on a school bus in 1992. In another case a Pensacola High student was killed and her sister injured when they were attacked with a butcher knife while walking home from school in 1996.
"There is not a single day in my life that I don't see those babies in those boxes," Ross said.
He also cited fear that has swept the nation after the Columbine High School massacre. "I need not share with you the climate of the country today," Ross said. "It is such that every school looks closely at these particular situations."
Although Tawana up until now has been a solid student with a good disciplinary record, those factors were not taken into consideration. Ross said the schools cannot have one set of rules for good kids and another for bad.