Effectiveness of zero tolerance policies
After much of the violence and deaths at school campuses across the nation, school boards began enacting zero tolerance policies for things such as weapons on school grounds. While this sounds reasonable on its surface, it has become an escape for teachers and administrators allowing them to not make a tough decision. They simply point to the policy and apply a one-size-fits-all brand of justice.
While everyone should be treated fairly, that does not mean that every student accused of bringing a weapon to school deserves to be punished equally.
Take a recent case in Georgia where two girls were suspended for 10 days because of a butter knife. The even more amazing thing is they didn’t even bring the butter knife to school.
The two girls, Ashley Pickens and Candace Grier, brought a cake to school to celebrate their impending graduation. Knowing that they could not bring a knife on campus, the two honor roll students decided to bring the cake without a knife and look for something to cut it with at school.
They found something similar to a butter knife in the school’s band room. After the cake was cut, the girls cleaned off the knife and went to put it back in the band room where they found it. The band room was locked so the girls had to put the knife in their backpack.
The news report said that teachers saw the two girls with the knife while they were waiting on a ride home. Hopefully, the teachers went and tackled these dangerous fugitives or at least called 911 to have the police come and handcuff them.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurance. At least once a year, we hear a case of good student who is expelled because of something similar.
A Pennsylvania editorial last month contains several cases of the lunacy that zero tolerance policies bring about.
In 1999, A 10-year-old student in California was expelled when she turned in the small cutting knife her mother had placed in her lunchbox to cut her apple.
In Louisiana, a second-grader was expelled for bringing her grandfather’s gold-plated pocket watch to school because the watch had a tiny knife attached.
And three years ago, an 18-year-old National Merit Scholar in Fort Myers, Fla., was suspended and charged with a felony count of possessing a weapon when a kitchen knife was found on the floor of her car while she was in class.
School officials should use the common sense God, well He’s not allowed either, but they can still use common sense to determine that a honor student with a butter knife found in the band room is not the same threat as a troublemaker bringing a loaded gun to school threatening people.
They are paid to make decisions like these, not to pawn them off on unfair abritrary rules.
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