The Associated Press, June 8, 1999

School Calls Nail Clipper a Weapon

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) -- A 15-year-old girl's apparent desire to keep her nails trimmed could keep her out of school for a year because administrators believe her clippers are a weapon.

Tawana Dawson told administrators she thought the two-inch metal blade attached to her nail clipper was to clean nails. Administrators said it violates a weapons policy and are recommending the sophomore be expelled.

Fingernail clippers are among the banned weapons pictured in a student handbook at Pensacola High. A teacher saw Tawana's clipper on the desk of another student who had borrowed it to trim her fingernails.

On Monday, a panel made up of a principal and two assistant principals from other schools sided with Principal Norm Ross, who wants Tawana expelled under a zero-tolerance policy on weapons.

Tawana's parents plan to seek a hearing before the case is sent to the Escambia County School Board for a decision. If expelled, she could attend a school for students with disciplinary problems.

``You are going to need to take the pencils out of the school, the scissors out of the school,'' Tawana's father, Darryl Beaton, told Ross.

In defense of the zero-tolerance policy, Ross recalled the stabbing deaths of two students at schools where he was an administrator, and he also cited the massacre in Littleton, Colo.

Although Tawana had a good disciplinary record and a 2.8 grade point average -- just below a B -- those factors were not taken into consideration. Ross said the schools cannot have double standards for kids doing well academically.

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