What have “zero tolerance” policies in schools brought us?

Kids who threaten to shoot imaginary “finger pistols” at each other, others who draw pistols on pieces of paper and threaten to shoot their classmates with them can be earmarked for suspension and possibly expulsion.

In the words of rapper Turbo in the 1990 hit “The Power”, “it’s gettin’ kinda hectic!”

Leading us to this scenario:
A ten year old boy making believe he’s shooting a bow and arrow at a classmate is suspended from school and threatened with expulsion under a weapons policy that calls for “zero tolerance”.

“Zero tolerance weapons policy” – how does any of this make sense when there is no weapon; and the only one that does exist is in the kid’s mind.

So in what’s turning out to be a “Minority Report” mentality, merely imagining that you’re shooting an adversary can get you kicked out of school.

Scary! (But then again, you’ve known this all along!)

The Rutherford Institute has come to the defense of a 10-year-old boy who was suspended under a school zero tolerance policy for shooting an imaginary “arrow” at a fellow classmate, using nothing more than his hands and his imagination.

Johnny Jones, a fifth grader at South Eastern Middle School, was suspended for a day and threatened with expulsion under the school’s weapons policy after playfully using his hands to draw the bowstrings on a pretend “bow” and “shoot” an arrow at a classmate who had held his folder like an imaginary gun and “shot” at Johnny.

The incident took place the week of October 14th, when fifth grader Johnny Jones asked his teacher for a pencil during class. Jones walked to the front of the classroom to retrieve the pencil, and during his walk back to his seat, a classmate and friend of Johnny’s held his folder like an imaginary gun and “shot” at Johnny.

Johnny playfully used his hands to draw the bowstrings on a completely imaginary “bow” and “shot” an arrow back. Seeing this, another girl in the class reported to the teacher that the boys were shooting at each other.

The teacher took both Johnny and the other boy into the hall and lectured them about disruption. The teacher then contacted Johnny’s mother, Beverly Jones, alerting her to the “seriousness” of the violation because the children were using “firearms” in their horseplay, and informing her that the matter had been referred to the Principal.

Principal John Horton contacted Ms. Jones soon thereafter in order to inform her that Johnny’s behavior was a serious offense that could result in expulsion under the school’s weapons policy. Horton characterized Johnny’s transgression as “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm” through the use of an imaginary bow and arrow.

According to the South Eastern School District’s Zero Tolerance policy for “Weapons, Ammunition and other Hazardous Items,” the district prohibits the possession of “weapons,” defined as including any “knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nunchaku, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.”

The Student Code further prohibits any “replica” or “look-alike” weapon, and requires that the school Principal immediately contact the appropriate police department, complete an incident report to file with the school Superintendent, and begin the process of mandatory expulsion immediately.

In coming to Johnny Jones’ defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out the absurdity of threatening a child with expulsion for using an “imaginary” weapon and urge school officials to exercise restraint and common sense in their well-meaning, albeit misguided, efforts to secure the schools against potential dangers.

Hence it appears that the discretion to discern a verifiable threat has been taken out of the hands of the teachers.

Not only them but administrators who have to abide by cockamamie zero tolerance rules when it comes to “weaponry” real or otherwise.

As educators you’d think they’d know better. But common sense isn’t so common anymore.