With her parents at her side, 17-year-old Amanda Schiffer emerged from Penta Career Center yesterday with tears in her eyes, a tissue in her hands, and a $200 tiny diamond stud in her nose.
The Penta junior had just received a second 10-day school suspension - and an expulsion hearing notice - after refusing for a third time to remove the nose stud.
“They told us today they're not going to let me back in, I don't think,” Miss Schiffer said after she left the Penta campus. “My whole life has been based on school. To lose it based on my appearance, it hurts.”
But Penta leaders have long banned facial jewelry as a way to prepare their vocational students for the workforce. Other students have been asked to remove similar jewelry. School officials said Miss Schiffer is the first to violate the policy repeatedly.
“We regret her decision and think that it's an unfortunate one,” said Patricia Schultz, the school's assistant superintendent.
Miss Schiffer, who is a junior studying horticulture, was first suspended for five days on April 10 after she arrived in class with the earring in her nose.
Her mother had allowed her to get her nose pierced for her birthday.
When she returned to school with the nose stud after the five day suspension, she was suspended for 10 days. Yesterday, was her first day back at Penta after serving the 10-day suspension. When she showed up with the nose jewelry, she was told to leave for another 10 days.
Ms. Schultz said administrators must abide by school policy, which includes other industry-based dress code requirements.
She said an expulsion hearing will be held at the end of Miss Schiffer's 10-day suspension period. If nothing has changed at that point, school officials will review the matter and make a decision about her future at Penta in Perrysburg Township.
Despite the possible expulsion, Miss Schiffer's parents said they stand behind their daughter's decision. They say the school is wrong to try to penalize her for having a nose stud.
“I don't think this little diamond stud has anything to do with education,” said her father, John Schiffer.
Many students at the vocational school agree.
As Penta students raced to their cars yesterday in the rain, many said they had discussed the pending expulsion earlier in the day in their classrooms. Some said it was a silly reason to expel a student.
“If it's big and gaudy, then it's different,” said Amanda Smith, 19, of Millbury, who is taking courses to become an administrative assistant.
Ms. Smith added that three classmates have their tongues pierced, but said it has not become an issue because the tongue rings aren't visible.
Students who come to Penta - there are about 1,400 juniors and seniors this school year - must follow strict dress codes because of their in-class job training. At Penta, teenagers are prepared for careers, including auto technology, child development, and machine trades.
In the law enforcement courses, for example, students must wear specific uniforms once a week and khaki pants and polo tops on the other days. Student Jayme Maushund, 17, said she also has to put her long brown hair up every day, except Friday.
Males who are training for law enforcement careers can't wear earrings or necklaces. Tattoos also are banned.
For many students, these are restrictions they've come to accept.
“I don't think it's right [to expel someone for a nose ring], but you do choose to come to this school,” said Kyle Kosicki, 17, of Bowling Green. “You don't have the same liberties as [students at] other schools.”
Even though she faces expulsion, Miss Schiffer plans to stand by her decision to keep her nose stud. But her mother, Brenda Blanton, said they would like to see the school change its policy for future students.
The school policy - which is similar to others at public schools in Ohio and the nation- will be reviewed during the summer, as it is every year, Ms. Schultz said.
“We do review it,” Ms. Schultz said. “It's not like it was written five years ago and hasn't been looked at since.”