Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, March 21, 2014

Zero-Tolerance Policies Cause Turmoil

Recent efforts to keep children safe in schools have led to some ridiculous consequences. We know that school administrators must follow the rules, but we are seeing some strange solutions to very small problems. Many students are facing harsh suspensions over so-called zero-tolerance incidents. Some school districts around the country are now rethinking their approach to minor offenses. It’s been found that these get-tough policies are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement, a high dropout rates.

In a recent zero-tolerance weapons incident, a Pittsburgh area high school student, David Schaffer, was suspended from Fox Chapel High for telling the truth! When he was dropped off at a school football game, he realized that he forgot to remove his pocket knife before entering the game. When he realized his mistake, he went up to the security guard and voluntarily turned in his knife. Even with no metal detector or danger of getting caught, the teen tried to follow the rules and tell the truth. David said the security guard “put it on the table next to him and said I could go in…” The principal then found David and kicked him out of the football game! On Monday morning, he was suspended for ten days.

The district superintendent was not available to review the case, so David was left sitting at home for five days. Even with later meetings between a lawyer and the superintendent, David was forced to finish the last five days of the suspension. David’s father remarked, “To me it sends a message [that] you should probably lie, because you’re going to get punished.” The family’s attorney summed up this ridiculous zero-tolerance case like this: “What are we teaching our youth today? To not be honest, to not be open and forthcoming?” The family then had to hire a lawyer and get this incident removed from his permanent record.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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