Zero Tolerance + School Administration = Zero Common Sense

Okay, it’s time to rant.   I’m growing fed up with high school students being suspended by their schools because they committed the indiscretion of violating the zero tolerance for weapons policy.   Yea, I understand that in a world where “Columbine” is still vividly on the minds of school officials they can’t afford to take potential situations lightly.   But c’mon, where has the common sense gone?   These school officials are highly paid professionals who seem incapable (or perhaps unwilling) to deal with the situations with pure common sense.

Case in point.   A Milaca, MN teen is on suspension because he accidentally left his “hunting bow” cased in the back of his SUV.   It was a simple mistake.   He had been hunting a few days before and forgot about the bow when he drove to school.   While at school, it occurred to him that he had made the mistake, so he did the proper thing and reported it to his teacher.   Several hours later, the principal called him to his office and informed the student that he was going to be suspended from school.   More importantly, this violation could lead to the youth’s expulsion from school.   You can read more HERE.

What does this action teach the youth?   Well, in my mind it shows that being honest certainly doesn’t pay.   Seriously, do you think the child would have told anyone if he didn’t have to knowing he would face this sort of punishment?   I’m guessing not.   Here’s a young adult who’s an avid hunter who now is being treated like he’s the next Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold.

Of course, it doesn’t end here.   Just a few weeks back a similar incident happened in a different school in Minnesota.   This time the student didn’t turn himself in…instead a security guard doing rounds in the student parking lot witnessed a box cutter in a console compartment between the front seats of the student’s car.   Again, the school over-reacted and levied a suspension with possible expulsion.   In this case the student worked at a local grocery chain after school and the knife was used to breakdown boxes.   Admittedly, he should have left the tool at work…but it accidentally got left in his pocket which then made it to his car.   You can read more on this story HERE.

Now let’s face the facts here.   When is the last time you’ve heard of a killer going on some uncontrolled rampage shooting a bow and arrows?   Moreover, I haven’t heard of a box cutter being used as a weapon since 9/11.   Sure, in both cases it can happen, but it seems awfully far-fetched to me.

I guess my real problem is in both of these instances the kids made mistakes but they had plausible excuses.   When a school can’t rely on its own discretion to evaluate matters on a case by case basis, what does this say about the school?   The school is teaching our youth to reason out problems and make proper judgments in life, but when the school needs to act on a matter they rely on a rigid, and dare I say, an unnecessary policy.

When an honest sportsman admits to his teacher that he errored by leaving the bow in his vehicle this deserves kudos for being upstanding and admitting his mistake.   Obviously, if he had ill intent he wouldn’t have made the admission.   And common sense would certainly grant the kid a pass on the first incident, wouldn’t it?   I would think so.

I sure know this…in the nearly 30 years since I graduated there have been lots of changes that have occurred in most high schools.   Certainly some I understand…but when the school officials have been stripped of their common-sense, judgment-making abilities on these matters it’s enough to cause me to just shake my head in utter disgust.

2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.