Annals of Zero Tolerance

I realize that this is like shooting fish in a barrel (has anyone ever shot a fish in a barrel? Isn’t it likely that the bullet would pierce the barrel and make it spring a leak?), but here’s another one of those insane overreaction stories, from this morning’s Times — about a six year-old in Delaware.

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.

For Delaware, Zachary’s case is especially frustrating because last year state lawmakers tried to make disciplinary rules more flexible by giving local boards authority to, “on a case-by-case basis, modify the terms of the expulsion.”

The law was introduced after a third-grade girl was expelled for a year because her grandmother had sent a birthday cake to school, along with a knife to cut it. The teacher called the principal — but not before using the knife to cut and serve the cake.

We can all pretty much agree that this is batshit insane, right? Well, everyone but this guy:

Charles P. Ewing, a professor of law and psychology at the University at Buffalo Law School who has written about school safety issues, said he favored a strict zero-tolerance approach.

“There are still serious threats every day in schools,” Dr. Ewing said, adding that giving school officials discretion holds the potential for discrimination and requires the kind of threat assessments that only law enforcement is equipped to make.



Right.  Only law enforcement officials (a/k/a to cops) are qualified to decide whether a Cub Scout camping utensil is a serious threat to classroom safety.  I am generally a good liberal and all of that, but this is the kind of stuff that makes me want to pull my kids out of the public schools and move to a cabin without electricity  in Montana.

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2 Responses to Annals of Zero Tolerance

  1. vickywoeste says:

    Jeff: the school board decided the letter of the law was irrational and cancelled the expulsion:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/14/AR2009101400152.html?hpid=moreheadlines

  2. laurabethnielsen says:

    you wouldn’t last 2 days without electricity.

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