Sitting with scissors

A 10-year-old girl was led off to the police station in handcuffs because she’d taken scissors to her Philadelphia elementary school.

School district officials said the fourth-grade student did not threaten anyone with the 8-inch shears, but violated a rule that considers scissors to be potential weapons.

. . . Police officers decided the girl hadn’t committed a crime and let her go.

However, school officials suspended her for five days. Administrators will decide at a hearing whether she may return to class, or be expelled to a special disciplinary school.

The scissors were discovered while students’ belongings were being searched for property missing from a teacher’s desk.

When I was in elementary school, we were required to bring scissors.

On another note: A British elementary school has banned pencil sharpeners, after a lad took one apart and used the razor to slash the neck of a classmate. The slasher is back in school after a two-day suspension. Kimberly Swygert points out the irony: The “offender is allowed to return, while the sharp objects are not.”

Expulsion is reserved for “very extreme” cases, the headmaster told parents. Apparently, premeditated and potentially deadly violence isn’t all that extreme.

About Joanne


  1. Vivacesunshine says:

    Me too. Of course, in kindergarten we also had a station where we did nothing but practice cutting vegetables . . . with real knives. Somehow, I’m sure that doesn’t happen anymore.

  2. Richard Nieporent says:

    The scissors were discovered while students’ belongings were being searched for property missing from a teacher’s desk

    I guess students do not have any fourth amendment rights when they are in school.

  3. Carl Larson says:

    I’m no Constitutional expert, but I belive many Constitutional protections do not apply when you are at school or a place of work (as opposed to in public or in your home).

    For instance, freedom of speech protects you if you want to make a speech in public at your local Speaker’s Corner, but it does not protect you if you choose to make that speech in your lunchroom at work.

    I believe school’s have the ability to seach lockers, desks, personal storage bins — area’s provided by the school at will. I’m less clear a school’s latitude concerning a child’s “personal effects” such as backpacks or pockets, but I’ve certainly seen them searched at my school on a regular basis.

  4. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Potential weapon? Almost everything is a potential weapon. People afraid to exercise judgement, even in this litiginous day, should not be in a position of authority. That parent should demand the principal be fired before the student returns. The police officer who cuffed the girl instead of arresting the principal for making a false police report should be fired.

  5. If you want to see the Principal strung up, then you should hang the teacher right beside her. After all, she had to call security and report the child. She could have cleaned up the whole situation so easily by sending them home.

    These teachers seem to know the new stricter rules so well. Why haven’t the parents been informed with a list of no-no’s? Why aren’t they posted in the school so that everybody can be informed?

  6. John from OK says:

    Once again we are jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts. Maybe she was running with the scissors. Maybe she was trying to cut cardboard with her mom’s “good” scissors. Perhaps she is left handed, and refused to use the special left-handed scissors provided to her. If she is willing to break any of these sacred rules, who’s to say she won’t bring in an Uzi 10 years from now?

    And did anyone else but me have trouble spelling “scissors”?

  7. I had scissors in elementary school in the 70s and used a knife in home economics class in junior high in the 80s. How are students supposed to cut things now? Maybe they don’t? I see it now … a market for scissors-free activity materials.

  8. Walter E. Wallis says:

    I want people in authority to use good judgement and to be judged by the outcome of that judgement. High salaries should carry high accountability, and poor judgement should result in reduced income. Really stupid decisions, such as this one, should evident of incompetence.

  9. When I was in elementary school, like 1st and 2nd grade, our desks were searched on a regular basis to make sure we didn’t have anything we weren’t supposed to. That I can recall, this continued up through 6th grade, although our desks were searched usually only with cause at that level. But the right of the teacher to do so was not questioned. I think a school has every right to search a student’s desk and locker at any time — those items are school property.

    From 7th grade on, we didn’t have desks that could hold stuff. They were just flat surfaces. I don’t personally remember whether backpacks were ever searched, but lockers were certainly open to inspection whenever the principal felt there was a legitimate reason.

    Backpacks are a touchier issue, since they are personal student property, like purses. I think that searching one should be allowed, but done under strict supervision by the principal or vice principal and in a controlled environment, like a room at the office. It shouldn’t be something a teacher can do whenever they feel like it.

  10. I usually carried a pocket knife in elementary school, at least in 5th grade & up. As I understood it, even gravity knives were permitted, so long as they weren’t spring-operated (although repeatedly flicking them open in class or on the playground was sure to attract attention). But that was around 1965-67.

    Are wooden pencils still used in classrooms, or is it all crayons and magic markers now?

  11. Walter E. Wallis says:

    With magic marker you can write “Kick Me” on another student’s back, thus inviting violence…

  12. John in OK says maybe she wouldn’t use the special left-handed scissors provided for her. That just goes to show how much education has changed. In the olden days when I was in school, left handed scissors were never provided. You were given right-handed scissors and expected to cut with them–and if it hurt your hand and you cut crooked, tough!

    And every classroom had two left-handed desks– you know the ones, with the arm rest on the left side–but in the devilish bureaucracy common to the time, the left-handed students were never allowed to sit at those desks. Who knows, we might have learned decent penmanship with that kind of coddling!

    Oh, we can complain about foolishness in schools now, but it can’t compare to the trials and tribulations left-handed students suffered twenty or thirty years ago!

  13. Walter E. Wallis wrote:

    I want people in authority to use good judgement and to be judged by the outcome of that judgement.

    Oh Walter, you’re such a kidder.

    You know as well as I do that one of the most important responsibilities of anyone in authority is to minimize their accountability.