Schools And Their Zero Tolerance Policies...

So today I get a call from the guidance counsellor at my 8 year old son’s elementary school school informing me that my son Andrew is being suspended from school for a day.

Apparently he and another child were tossing a rock back and forth during recess on the playground. And, as often happens, what was once a game turned into something else, the rock got “tossed” too hard by one of them, and this other child picks up a plastic jump rope and whips Andrew on the leg with it.

My son responds by saying “I’ll cut your head off if you do that again”, was told on by the other kid, and now Andrew is being suspended for threatening another student with violence due to the school’s zero tolerance policy, and the other child is being disciplined as well, although not as severely…which I find a little odd given that the other kid actually struck my son with something (actual violence) as opposed to making what I know is an idle threat.

I fully understand why schools have these policies these days, but I also think that in a situation such as this, with kids at this age, this warranted more of a sit down and talking to about “why we don’t say things like that” as opposed to an outright suspension.

It isn’t like my child is a 16 year old making an idle bomb threat, this is an 8 year old that doesn’t even fully comprehend what death is.

A part of me is a little irked at the way this was handled. I had a conference call with both the counsellor and my son, and he fully understands that he made a mistake, and the cousellor said Andrew was very receptive to his conversation with him.

I don’t know, if it was your child, how would you feel about it, especially since the other kid that did the actual hitting isn’t getting the same punishment?

I think generally zero tolerance is a convenient way to avoid using judgment and having to explain decisions. I see nothing in your story to make me change my opinion.

jones is right.

My oldest is 17 and from Kindergarten until 8th grade, he was trained in Tae Kwon Do, attaining his black belt. In 7th grade, a kid jumped him from behind during recess and Josh reacted exactly as instructed. He elbowed the kid in the nose, broke free of the hold, knocked the kid down and jumped away. A teacher saw what happened and the principal was informed of the situation. When Mrs. Hollister was called in to discuss the matter, the principal even explained that he was on Josh’s side, but rules-is-rules, so he was suspended for a day. The other kid got 3 days.

I think zero tolerance policies make no one safer and hand out a lot of overly-strong punishments.

I think your son getting suspended is a crock, but in the big scheme of things its no big deal.

OTOH, like you note, that the fracker that DID actual violence isnt getting the same or worse is a REAL crock.

Thank gawd your son didnt say “I’ll cap your ass next time” :slight_smile:

Zero tolerance policies don’t make the severity of the infration unquestionable, they just make the punishment unquestionable.
You could rate the severity of the infraction on a scale of 1 to 10 and the school would probably even agree with you that it was a minor 1-2. But by having an equal punishment for all levels it absolves the school of having to make a judgement on the level of severity and finding a punishment to meet that level of severity.
You don’t want levels of infractions 1-10 with matching punishments 1-10 then parents and schools arguing whether it was a level 5 or a level 7 wasting everyones time.
Just realize that it was minor even though the punishment may seem harsh.

I dislike zero tolerance for this reason, and I would be irked too. It is especially eye-rolling when all the authorities agree the way a situation should be handled, but ‘have’ to respond in a different way because of the policy. To me, ‘because this is the policy’ is not a good reason if the policy does not make sense applied to the situation.

I would explain to my son why it happened the way it did but tell him you know he wasn’t really threatening the kid in any real manner. (not that he did nothing wrong here, but if it was my kid I would want him to know the difference between smack talk and making a real threat.)

Your son must be a real badass if the school was seriously afraid he was going to cut the other kid’s head off. Or else they are idiots who not only punished the wrong kid but rewarded stupid behavior. It’s classic zero judgment.

Some of this comes from our overly litigious society and the unfortunate tendency for some clueless parents to sue the school board for ludicrous reasons.
Of course, some of it also comes from some school administrators being hidebound bureaucrats who shouldn’t be in charge of our children.

The fact that the actual violent behavior wasn’t cause for suspension seems a bit wacky to me.

How ridiculous. I can’t count the times as a child I said, “I’m gonna kill you!” with no intention of doing any such thing. Sheesh.

I think the policy exists to prevent people from using their judgment, perhaps out of some misguided sense of fairness.

I’m having flashbacks to my oldest son’s 6th grade year! He was actually recommended for expulsion after one incident due to a zero tolerance policy. It was a joke, and he wasn’t expelled, and actually got a written apology from the school board after the hearing because of how incredibly stupid it was. He also got credit for the days he was suspended before the hearing…but that’s another story.

In the case of my son…this was 6th grade and he was in study hall (I think…it may have been another class in which there was no assigned work and the kids were meant to be sitting quietly either reading or working on homework for other classes) and this girl was bugging him, as girls that age tend to do with boys that age. Apparently (and admittedly) she was poking him in the back of the neck with the eraser end of her pencil. Nothing dangerous, just annoying; and he asked her to stop a couple of times. When she kept it up (and this was all witnessed by the teacher) he turned around and said, “Stop it or I’ll kill you” at which point the girl laughed and stopped.

The teacher however, sent my son to the principal who then suspended him and recommended him for expulsion because when he said it, he had a pencil of his own in his hand and thus it became “death threats with a deadly weapon”. I kid you not. A pencil that is required by the school is now apparently a deadly weapon.

As I said, the expulsion hearing was a joke, he (and we) got apologies for it ever happening, and I pulled him out of that school as soon as I could. He has never been in trouble either before or since, and he has never displayed any violent tendencies at all…just a stupid no tolerance violence policy. I still get angry thinking about it (and this is my son who is now in the Air Force, so it was quite some time ago).

I would be livid. And I would not accept it. If it were my child, I would have a meeting with whoever dealt out the punishment, appeal the decision, and demand an explanation for the inequity. If I didn’t get a satisfactory answer, and still felt it was unfair, I’d go up the line until it was corrected. Either they are both punished (equally) for their actions or neither are, would be my stance. And I’d take it up with the superintendent if need be.

The school administrators are just doing their jobs according to their interpretations of the policies and rules, but that doesn’t mean they are always right (even within the zero tolerance context) and I would have no problem explaining the errors of their ways to them.

Zero tolerance policies are an abomination.

THATS why you go concealed carry rather than open carry :slight_smile:

I’m surprised the other kid was willing to break the sacred code of the schoolyard by telling on your kid, especially for such a minor thing. That would have been a big no-no in my day (late 80s).

Another thing that’s pissing me off is the fact that I found out that any school work he misses tomorrow while he’s suspended can’t be made up in the sense that he can’t get a grade for it.

I mean…really? Punish the child if you must, but academically too? He’s a good student that gets all A’s and B’s!

So, schools adopted Zero tolerance policies due to legal issues, it would be interesting to note if anyone was able to litigate based on the zero-tolerance policy and cause yet another sea change.

What happens if you just bring him to school anyway?

Whoa, seriously? When I was in school (and now at the high school I work at part time), the policy states that when a kid misses school due to disciplinary action, the kid must be allowed the chance to make up the work for full credit.

I’m going to have to agree with MitzeKatze. If you don’t agree with how the situation has been handled, go to the school to discuss it.

My 12 year-old was just given lunch detention which he didn’t think he deserved. He was also told to write an apology to his teacher. I went to the school and discussed it with the principle and not only does he have a one day credit for detention, the teacher wrote my son an apology for falsely accusing him and not believing him when he tried to tell her that it wasn’t him.

The school system is not the “end all be all” as they would have you believe.