Education A to Z: Z for Zero Tolerance Going Too Far?

My final blog in the Education A to Z blog series. I want to focus today on zero tolerance. Let me start by stating that I truly support schools in their plan of zero tolerance. I think it is a great idea, but am I the only one who thinks, at times, that schools go too far with making a point or in their stance on zero tolerance? I agree it keeps kids more safe in school and it shows kids that certain behaviors will just not be tolerated at school. However, there are cases when schools may have gone too far? Has yours?

In Glendale, Arizona a 13-year old boy was motivated to make a homemade rocket. He took a Pringles container and three match heads for fuel and whipped up his masterpiece. Proudly, he took the rocket to school where school staff found it is in his locker during a search. The boy was suspended by the school because they deemed it to be a weapon. The police were even called. Is this going too far with a zero tolerance policy? You tell me.

In another case, a six-year old boy brought candy to school and shared it with his friends. The school suspended him under their zero tolerance drug policy. The drug of choice for this six-year old? Lemon drops. Yep, lemon drops got a six year old suspended for drug use. The boy was suspended for a day and a half and his mother was evidently told by the school that a child bringing candy to school is similar to a student who brings a gun to school. Is this going too far with a zero tolerance policy? Again, you tell me.

Schools have taken zero tolerance to such extremes, like the examples above, that nothing that even remotely resembles a weapon is allowed in school. I do understand that; a water gun can look remarkably like a real gun. What I do not understand is why students, such as the above, are suspended for items that really do not or should not violate a zero tolerance policy.

Again, I was a teacher, I know that schools are all about safety these days and I am so glad. But, is there such a thing as going too far with zero tolerance?