Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oklahoma to Limit Zero Tolerance "Weapons" Policies?

An Oklahoma legislator is making news with his introduction of a bill that would prohibit schools from suspended or taking other negative action against students for

Ok bill

I am definitely sympathetic to limiting the senseless suspension and expulsion of students who pose no real threat to school, but this bill may go too far.  As I argue in my forthcoming paper "To End Zero Tolerance," constitutional principles should limit the expulsion of the student with, for instance, a pastry gun, but that is not to say the school is prohibited from taking any action against the student.  This bill seems to suggest schools cannot do the latter either.  Regardless, the immediate reaction of Oklahoma Education Association baffles me, as it seems to object to any limits on their authority to suspend and expel.  Its president asserts that educators should be left to make these determinations on a case by case basis.  If, in fact, zero tolerance was leading to case-by-case judgments, I might tend to agree, but zero tolerance has  more often lead to a refusal by schools to consider circumstances.  The rationale of suspending students with pastry guns has been that they violated the weapons policy and, thus, must be expelled.  I hope to share my paper and the details of why this is constitutionally irrational within the next week or so.


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