Then, the next morning, "we received a letter in the mail, postmarked the 18th [of October] saying that Amber had been expelled," Heinz said. "Now I guess it's possible that someone rushed down to the post office [after the hearing] and got the letter postmarked that same day, but I kind of have the feeling this was a foregone conclusion, that that letter was written before we even walked into the expulsion hearing."
Pam Bailey, spokeswoman for the Berkeley County schools, said that officials had followed proper protocol and that a county hearing officer had affirmed the school's expulsion recommendation for Amber.
"It's not what we would consider to be a traditional butter knife," Bailey told ABC News. "Even though it's blunt on the end, it does have a serrated edge."
Bailey acknowledged Amber's clean disciplinary record — beyond a minor uniform infraction. "Despite the fact that the student was an exceptional student, this has nothing to do with how good she was in the classroom. She was in possession of a knife."
Bailey told ABC News school officials had no reason to believe Amber had any nefarious or violent intent in transporting the butter spreader onto school property.
"Certainly, if it was my child, I would have a different perspective," she said. "But if you're a school administrator, your perspective has to be broader. You have to consider the safety of the entire student population."
But Heinz said the reviews his stepdaughter received from teachers was exemplary.
He said they are considering their options, including the option to appeal the decision to the county. They have yet to pursue any legal action, and they are reluctant to do so, Heinz said.
"We have not researched all our options,'' he said. "We hope that there will be some kind of rational thought."
In the meantime, Amber is, academically speaking, benched for the season.
"They have the option of reinstating her next fall," a frustrated Heinz said, "if they decide they want to."