Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Zero Tolerance Overreaction

Zero Tolerance is one of the foolish policies inflicted on public school students. It requires disproportionate punishment for minor and unintended offenses. Even when school policies permit lenience and exceptions, some school personnel insist on taking a hard line for petty violations

In Kansas, a fifth-grade straight-A student was suspended last fall for four months for playing with another child's toy gun on the school playground on a Sunday when school was not in session. The school board refused to modify the suspension.

In Montana, a teenager forgot to remove an unloaded hunting rifle from her car before returning to high school after the Thanksgiving break. The rifle was locked in a case in the trunk and there was no ammunition in the car. The 16-year-old remembered that the gun was still in her car and went to school officials to tell them, expecting to be allowed to move her car off school grounds. Instead, she was escorted from her classroom and suspended for the rest of the year. Fortunately, the length of the suspension was later reduced.

A North Carolina senior was expelled and criminally charged with possession of a weapon on school grounds when her principal found a small paring knife in her lunchbox. She and her father have matching lunchboxes and she accidentally picked up the wrong lunchbox, which contained a small knife to cut her dad's apple. The student is being permitted to complete her course work on line, but now she has a criminal record which will surely interfere with her college applications.

It does seem that schools could exercise a little more common sense in dealing with the zero tolerance policies. All these student victims of zero tolerance punishment are fearful that their college applications will be severely jeopardized.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

1 comment:

Johnny said...

My nephew was suspended this week for inadvertenly leaving shotgun shells in plain view in his car. There was no gun;however,under Clinton City Schools Policy & Procedures Handbook, these are considered explosives.This young man is a senior, honor roll, top 20 in his class, Captain of Wrestling Team,2nd Place Winner of Structural Engineering Award,a model student; yet,suspended for remainder of year.His only option: attending alternative school;however, allowed to attend 3 classes at the HS & no school participation in sports or prom.The Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies prevent some Principals from exercising discretionary action based upon each individual's offense. I'm 150% in agreement for adequate punishment in schools, but what happened to punishment to fit the crime. School boards have no insurance; therefore,lawsuits can only be brought against the state or the town of origin. Perhaps if more counties were forced to pay out large judgements,school boards and superintendents would punish their students more carefully!

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