Student facing charges over pencil sharpener blade

Posted at 10:51 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-22 10:11:57-04

LIVE OAK, Fla. (WTXL) - A local mother is concerned about the way the Suwanee County School District is punishing her child after an incident last week.

11-year-old Aeris Thomas was only in the 6th grade at Suwannee Middle School for couple days before the new school year started to go south.

Aeris says the trouble started with a blade from a pencil sharpener. She says she was just "playing" with it when some other students saw and told an adult at the school.

"They were worried she was cutting herself or she was going to cut herself," said Jessica Rowland, Thomas' mother. "They checked her over and she didn't have any cuts. They went through all her stuff and then sent her home."

Rowland found out the next day that her daughter would be suspended.

"I asked if she threatened anybody and the officer said no. I asked if he felt like she was a threat to anybody and he said no," said Rowland. "Razor blades are considered weapons on school grounds. They're classifying the pencil sharpener blade as a razor blade."

Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John says they have to file charges.

"[Because of] her age and so forth, we're not wanting to hurt her at all. We've just got to follow Florida statute," said Sheriff St. John. "Any of the students can have a pencil sharpener in the schools for the intended purpose of sharpening a pencil. Once you dissect that sharpener and actually take the blade out for different purposes, that's where the issue arises."

We asked the Suwannee County School District for more information on their investigation into what happened. The superintendent declined to comment.

Rowland is worried about her daughter's future.

"To ruin her whole school record for the rest of her life... she'll never be eligible for scholarship," said Rowland. Aeris Thomas put her hand on her mother's shoulder as she started to cry.

"It's just hard. She's a good kid," said Rowland. "I don't know what needs to change; I don't know if the law needs to change, the school system, the sheriff's department. I don't know what needs to change but there's no reason for this."

Sheriff St. John says now, it's up to the state attorneys office to decide if they will move forward with charges.

Howard says the school district offered to move Thomas to an alternative school. Instead, Howard will likely home-school her.

WTXL couldn't find the Suwannee County School District's 2018 school supply list online, but last year, pencil sharpeners were listed as a required item for Suwannee Intermediate School.