Doe v. Superintendent of Sch.

421 Mass. 117, 653 N.E.2d 1088 (1995)

 

RULE:

If the legislature had intended the term "dangerous weapon" to include only those items set forth in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 269, § 10 (b), it could easily have done so expressly, which it did not. If the legislature intentionally omits language from a statute, no court can supply it. 

FACTS:

A student was expelled for one year for bringing a knife to school. The student had a history of suicide attempts and on the day she brought the lipstick case containing a knife to school, her wrist was bandaged from her third attempt at suicide. Plaintiff student appealed a judgment from the Superior Court Department (Massachusetts), which upheld her expulsion from school for one year for possessing a lipstick case containing a one and one-quarter inch blade. Defendant school district argued that the case was moot since the student was back in school. The student argued that defendants abused their discretion in expelling her and violated her constitutional right to an education.

ISSUE:

Did the lower court err in its ruling that the Legislature intended to leave the determination of whether a particular object is a dangerous weapon to the sound judgment of the principal? 

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

In the present case, the item in question, a lipstick case which, when opened, revealed a one and one-quarter inch blade, had no apparent purpose except to inflict harm. The plaintiff does not suggest otherwise. We conclude, as did the trial judge, that Principal Boule was justified in determining that the lipstick knife was a dangerous weapon under the school weapons policy. Accordingly, the plaintiff's expulsion was authorized by § 37H.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.