A Pop Tart eaten into a silhouette of a gun becomes a gun to school administrators, and a child is suspended. A Derby, KS boy was suspended for bringing a Chuck E. Cheese noisemaker to school.
|The actual dangerous weapon threatening our defenseless children.|
What we are witnessing, thanks in large part to zero tolerance policies that were intended to make schools safer by discouraging the use of actual drugs and weapons by students, is the inhumane treatment of young people and the criminalization of childish behavior.
Ninth grader Andrew Mikel is merely the latest in a long line of victims whose educations have been senselessly derailed by school administrators lacking in both common sense and compassion. A freshman at Spotsylvania High School in Virginia, Andrew was expelled in December 2010 for shooting a handful of small pellets akin to plastic spit wads at fellow students in the school hallway during lunch period. Although the initial punishment was only for 10 days, the school board later extended it to the rest of the school year. School officials also referred the matter to local law enforcement, which initiated juvenile proceedings for criminal assault against young Andrew.
Andrew is not alone. Nine-year-old Patrick Timoney was sent to the principal's office and threatened with suspension after school officials discovered that one of his LEGOs was holding a 2-inch toy gun. That particular LEGO, a policeman, was Patrick's favorite because his father is a retired police officer. David Morales, an 8-year-old Rhode Island student, ran afoul of his school's zero tolerance policies after he wore a hat to school decorated with an American flag and tiny plastic Army figures in honor of American troops. School officials declared the hat out of bounds because the toy soldiers were carrying miniature guns. A 7-year-old New Jersey boy, described by school officials as "a nice kid" and "a good student," was reported to the police and charged with possessing an imitation firearm after he brought a toy Nerf-style gun to school. The gun shoots soft ping pong-type balls.
Things have gotten so bad that it doesn't even take a toy gun to raise the ire of school officials. A high school sophomore was suspended for violating the school's no-cell-phone policy after he took a call from his father, a master sergeant in the U.S. Army who was serving in Iraq at the time. A 12-year-old New York student was hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. In Houston, an eighth grader was suspended for wearing rosary beads to school in memory of her grandmother (the school has a zero tolerance policy against the rosary, which the school insists can be interpreted as a sign of gang involvement). Six-year-old Cub Scout Zachary Christie wassentenced to 45 days in reform school after bringing a camping utensil to school that can serve as a fork, knife or spoon. And in Oklahoma, school officials suspended a first grader simply for using his hand to simulate a gun.
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Zero tolerance policies are just an excuse for administrators to avoid taking responsibility for making a decision based on common sense. Not even adults in our court systems are treated with this lack of discretion.
And this is a continuing problem that is getting worse instead of better. The kid with the Chuck E. Cheese toy? 2008. The quote above with all the references to similar situations? 2011. And here in 2013 we find that playing with toys legally on one's property and well away from any sort of school property or activity is now illegal.Apparently there is no Bill of Rights when it comes to school administrators making zero tolerance decisions. Which is to say they don't make a decision, they play Cover My Ass by not using their heads, discretion or logic.
It's not just Dear Leader and politicians staining our lives and freedoms, although it is easier to focus on them. We cannot forget the overreaching desk driving drones that were elected by nobody that are slowly taking over our lives.