Jordan Wiser, high school senior, says he declined the car search that led to his suspension from Ashtabula County Technical School over a pocket knife found in his EMT medical vest. The three-inch folding knife found in the trunk of his car is one of his life-saving tools, used to cut seat belts in an emergency.
Wiser spent 13 days in the Ashtabula County Jail, was booted from the Army’s Future Soldier Training System program, and has had to continue his senior year from home. Wiser was taking A-Tech’s Firefighter 2 and EMT courses.
“Last year, I completed the law enforcement course,” Wiser told The Huffington Post. “I received several certifications, including the National Terror Defense certification from FEMA, the Terror Recognition certification and [certification as an] Emergency Vehicle Operator.”
Also found in the car on campus was an Airsoft gun, which is legal and shoots non-lethal pellets. Wiser says the Airsoft gun is for a shooting club he attends. The high schooler also kept a stun gun in his car for self-defense.
Wiser hopes for a favorable hearing at his April 1 court date. Otherwise, the felony charges may put his plans to enlist in the Army after graduation in jeopardy.
“If I am convicted of a felony, I’m never going to be a police officer. I’m never going to be a fireman. I’m never going to be in the military,” Jordan Wiser continued. “I won’t even be able to be a janitor. I’m 18 years old, and this is going to ruin my entire life.”
If the court decides that the search was illegal, Wiser may have a chance.
Jordan Wiser spoke to Fox News about the allegedly illegal car search. “I declined to allow them to search myself or my car and that I wanted to talk to my lawyer or my father. They told me it wasn’t an option.”
Once the knife was found in the EMT trainee’s first responder kit, Ashtabula County Technical School enacted their zero tolerance policy. Superintendent Jerome Brockway insists that the school had probable cause to search the car and that the student handbook, which all students must agree to in order to attend the school, states that officials have the right to search a student and his or her vehicle if they have probable cause. The school’s probable cause is based on Wiser’s Youtube account activity, which includes demonstrations on home defense tactics.
Superintendent Brockway also claims that Wiser consented to the search. “When we asked, he had said, ‘okay,’” Brockway told Fox News.
Jordan Wiser describes the search very differently. “The principal said he had reason to believe I had weapons in my vehicle and needed to search it,” Wiser said. “He made me empty out all my pockets, and the vice principal grabbed me and patted me down very forcibly. It was somewhat awkward. Then they took my car keys.” The principal then allegedly cited the student handbook as his search warrant and ignored Wiser’s request for an attorney.
Wiser says he is considering filing a lawsuit. “It is definitely an option.”
Zero tolerance policies have led to similar issues over the past decade, yet schools continue to use them. For another example, read: Lansingburgh Central School District decision perfect argument against zero tolerance policies.
photo credit: JBWphotography, by Jordan Wiser