Teenager Expelled For Possession of Grooming Tool

Taylor Ray Jetter, a fifteen-year-old middle school student, has been expelled from school for possession of a “tool capable of inflicting bodily harm” — an eyebrow shaver.

The Penn Hills school board decided Tuesday night to uphold a 15-year-old student’s expulsion for showing up at school with an eyebrow shaver in her handbag.

A Linton Middle School teenager was expelled after a random search turned up an eyebrow shaver in her handbag on May 4.

Officials at the Penn Hills school recommended that Taylor Ray Jetter be expelled for the rest of this year and 45 days next year.

The state’s Safe School Act defines a weapon as any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nun chuck, firearms, rifle and any other tool capable of inflicting bodily harm.

This is absolute insanity. She’s a teenage student, for God’s sake, not an inmate. A person shouldn’t have their life potentially ruined because a bunch of school administrators are under the impression that grooming implements are deadly weapons. These types of zero tolerance laws are bad enough, but the administrators who fail to exercise an ounce of common sense by interpreting them literally and without judgment make it even worse.

(link via Balloon Juice and cross-posted at Heretical Ideas)

UPDATE (James Joyner):  While I concur with all above, I wonder why anyone needs to take an eyebrow shaver to school with them.  Unless she’s a werewolf or something, her eyebrows shouldn’t grow so much during the day that they need a touchup.

I’ve appended a photograph above that’s purportedly the type of shaver in question.

FILED UNDER: Education, Government, US Politics
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. Having read the linked article, it’s all I can do to not use expletives in this comment.

    I’m certainly using them vocally.

  2. just me says:

    Oh my common sense has definitely left the building when it comes to the definition of weapons. I am curious just how many students have used eyebrown shavers as weapons in school-I am pretty much willing to bet the answer is none.

    At most this kid should have gotten a detention.

  3. davod says:

    Next – ATF to crack down on Cosmetology schools.

  4. markm says:

    I wonder why anyone needs to take an eyebrow shaver to school with them

    My first thought was “who the F shaves their eyebrows???” followed by “and why do they need to do it at school”….I agree it’s insane but if you know the rules going in it’s not that difficult.

  5. bystander says:

    “I wonder why anyone needs to take an eyebrow shaver to school with them.”

    Have you no women in your life? When it comes to purse contents, they don’t carry what they need for the day. From my observations, they generally carry what they used in the last month, and might need in the next.

  6. DC Loser says:

    Back in the dinosaur age when I went to high school, we had the switchblade combs. Whatever happened to common sense. Zero tolerance is a copout.

  7. Michael says:

    I wonder why anyone needs to take an eyebrow shaver to school with them.

    Did you miss the part about her being a teenage girl?

    if you know the rules going in it’s not that difficult.

    I’m sure she did know the rules, it’s just that she, like any rational person, would never have considered a simple grooming tool as a weapon. The rule wasn’t “No eyebrow shavers”, it was “No weapons”.

    Back in the dinosaur age when I went to high school, we had the switchblade combs.

    Hell, back when I was in school I carried an X-Acto tool kit with me everywhere. It was a required part of my art classes, everyone carried them.

    Can we maybe stop freaking out over teenagers now? They’re not all out to kill people.

  8. Janis Gore says:

    She had it at school to show her girlfriends.

    To our dismay, some of us have brows like Susan Boyle and Madonna’s daughter.

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    I wonder why anyone needs to take an eyebrow shaver to school with them.

    As others have noted, the shaver was in her purse, where many women routinely keep a ready supply of cosmetology needs at hand.

  10. Furhead says:

    While I genuinely laughed at the werewolf comment, one has to imagine a friend of hers pointing out that she has a single eyebrow hair that is noticeably longer than the rest. This could ruin the poor girl’s day … she would walk around with her head cocked to one side, hiding the errant brow from the cute guy in chem class. It’s traumatizing, I tell you!

  11. Whatever happened to confiscation and detention. Oh, that’s right, it’s all about the illusion of safety rather than actual safety.

  12. markm says:

    I’m sure she did know the rules, it’s just that she, like any rational person, would never have considered a simple grooming tool as a weapon.

    The state’s Safe School Act defines a weapon as any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nun chuck, firearms, rifle and any other tool capable of inflicting bodily harm.

    I’ll bet when you read that SSA in a week it’ll include “shaving instrument or tool”.

  13. Our Paul says:

    Is an eye brow shaver banned as a weapon from National Parks?

    Given that Ms. Taylor is described as:

    Taylor Jetter fears expulsion will hurt her chances of becoming a nurse-anesthetist. She’s a Girl Scout and a member of the school’s basketball team, choir and leadership team

    Will troop, team,and choir members that she associates with be subject to strip searches?

    Will that loathed and much despised Anti-American group which hides under the innocuous appellation of “ACLU” jump into the breach and defend this budding terrorist?

    Who knows, only the Shadow knows…

    Go Alex, go man!!!

  14. floyd says:

    Looks like no more running with scissors!
    Can they have pencil sharpeners? or even sharp pencils? What about those three ring binders? Hey they can really pinch!
    I guess it’s only finger food in the lunch room.
    What about those sharp keys, or pierced ear-rings?
    Worst of all…PAPER? You can die from a really nasty paper cut!!

  15. Drew says:

    Have you guys seen a picture of the girl?? How do you know?? Maybe she IS a werewolf.

  16. Steve Verdon says:

    I’ll bet when you read that SSA in a week it’ll include “shaving instrument or tool”.

    It also includes nail clippers and the scissors used in pre-schools (with rounded tips, and protective plastic coating).

    Don’t be a retard. Seriously, don’t be a retard, when my son went to private school we had to buy and send him to school with the scissors noted above.

    I’d also argue that a pen or pencil is a far more effective weapon. Especially a pencil, stab the person, then break it off.

    Can they have pencil sharpeners?

    Technically, no. It is a cutting tool.

  17. […] Alex Knapp: This is absolute insanity. She’s a teenage student, for God’s sake, not an inmate. A person shouldn’t have their life potentially ruined because a bunch of school administrators are under the impression that grooming implements are deadly weapons. These types of zero tolerance laws are bad enough, but the administrators who fail to exercise an ounce of common sense by interpreting them literally and without judgment make it even worse. […]

  18. pylon says:

    If the photo you found is accurate, while I don’t agree with going overboard on these things, it was not a hard mistake to make. The thing looks weaponish, or at least box-cutterish.

  19. Michael says:

    Technically, no. It is a cutting tool.

    Technically it’s a piercing tool, it doesn’t have a bladed edge.

    The thing looks weaponish, or at least box-cutterish.

    The thing has a millimeter deep blade surrounded by a raised plastic housing. You could make a deeper cut with card stock than that thing.

  20. Janis Gore says:

    Michael, when I was a young journalist, I had long hair that I pulled back in a clip at my neck.

    I used pencils, and I would stuff them in my hair above the clip. Sometimes I’d find four or five back there, and I have thin hair.

    In advertising composition, we used Exactos, and I just caught myself before I stuffed one of those back there, too.

  21. Steve Verdon says:

    Sorry, no a pencil sharpener does not pierce it cuts. Hence they are prohibited…can the school expel itself?

    The thing looks weaponish, or at least box-cutterish.

    A pencil is weaponish as it shankish looking. So is a pen, and a scarf looks like a garrote, as do shoe laces.

  22. Michael says:

    Sorry, no a pencil sharpener does not pierce it cuts.

    Me fail reading comprehension? Sorry, thought you were talking about pencils, not sharpeners.

  23. Drew says:

    I saw a werewolf in London…….his hair was perfect. I’m still thinkin’ she needed the tool ’cause she’s a werewolf………

  24. pylon says:

    Steve – methinks you wish to argue too much. I’m not saying it was a correct decision. But the tool looks more like a knife than does a pencil.

    And maybe, just maybe, the girl was flicking it around like the aforementioned switchblade comb (I had one of those too).

  25. Michael says:

    But the tool looks more like a knife than does a pencil.

    That’s fine, but the rule wasn’t “Nothing more knife-like than a pencil”.

    And maybe, just maybe, the girl was flicking it around like the aforementioned switchblade comb

    Maybe, just maybe, you didn’t read the part of the story quoted in the post:

    a random search turned up an eyebrow shaver in her handbag

  26. Steve Verdon says:

    Steve – methinks you wish to argue too much. I’m not saying it was a correct decision. But the tool looks more like a knife than does a pencil.

    No it doesn’t, and false analogy there.

    A pencil looks more like a shank than this looks like a knife. In watching the video it can’t cut skin. It is quite small, folds up, and is no worse than tweezers, nail clippers, or a pencil in terms of an inprovised weapon. Lots of things cut at school that aren’t weapons nor do they endanger student safety.

    And in any event the punishment does not fit the crime. I’m guessing we are talking almost 2 months for this? Stupid.

    And maybe, just maybe, the girl was flicking it around like the aforementioned switchblade comb (I had one of those too).

    Me thinks you are ignorant. It was found during a random search.

  27. just me says:

    wonder why anyone needs to take an eyebrow shaver to school with them.

    My guess is that she probably just keeps all her grooming items in a make-up bag and throws it in her purse to do touch ups. I am a woman, and I pretty much keep all my grooming stuff in the same make-up bag-I just don’t haul mine around with me. An extra lip stick in the purse is pretty much the extent of my make-up application away from home.

    I would also think that most teenage girls or shoot any teenager wouldn’t even consider an eyebrow shaver as a potential weapon, which is why she probably didn’t think about it being in her make-up bag.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    This story is so ridiculous…have the tragedies at places like Columbine driven some people so crazy that we now have regulations like this? To echo Our Paul, it is amazing that guns are allowed in national parks but an eyebrow shaver is now forbidden in middle school…the poor children…yes, we must protect them all from a potential drive-by eyebrow shaving…

  29. pylon says:

    I may be ignorant, but I’m very good looking to make up for it.

    It folds up like a pocket knife, is shaped like one and has a little blade thing on it. I do bow to your apparently greater knowledge of shanks. Though this doesn’t look much like either to me:

    http://images.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.themartialist.com/images/ranger01.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.themartialist.com/pecom/rangerknives.htm&usg=__k1spDH-1m89GEz1Yvux2h7HHezs=&h=300&w=400&sz=22&hl=en&start=3&um=1&tbnid=f3PbvtSGGxVqXM:&tbnh=93&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dshank%2Bknife%26hl%3Den%26um%3D1

    Speaking of ignorant, here are things I didn’t talk about that you seemed to think I did:

    a. what the video showed

    b. what the punishment was

    c. whether it cut stuff or not

    You seem to think I am disagreeing about the major point here, which was the zero tolerance BS.

    What this story is, like so many of these righteous indignation stories are, is a screwup by an official which is supposedly some sort of representative case of where society is going.

  30. Neill Payne says:

    This farce has gone on too long. This is as ludicrous as the “Come at me with a banana” Monty Python gag.
    This whole business of being terrified of toothpicks and paralyzed by the thought of an unregistered pair of tweezers has just got to stop. I mean really! If we have become so pusillanimous as to believe that a passenger with a nail clipper can highjack a plane, then just ground all aviation immediately.

    Likewise, what possible threat of mayhem does a teenage girl pose to her school by carrying such a weapon of mass eyebrow destruction? Are we such
    pantywaists? What is the worst case scenario? She nuts up and scratches someone with this pathetic weapon? Are there no boys or men strong and brave enough to disarm this little girl? Wow, they might risk a scratch or, horrors, a shaven eyebrow for all their trouble. Are we such mice that we cower behind such stupid, moronic and intrusive laws?

    Do you really feel safer knowing that concealed-carry cosmetic devices have been banned? I pity you. Bow down and lick the hand of Big Brother and I pray that your chains rest lightly upon your necks.