Zero Tolerance What is Zero Tolerance? A policy of predetermined consequences regardless of the context of the offense. “One size fits all” Pertains to possession of weapons, violence and drugs Sometimes threats, disruption, hate speech, activities outside of school History of Zero Tolerance 1986- program for war on drugs 1989- California, New York and Kentucky adapt it to school disciplinary policy 1993- Zero-tolerance policies employed widely 1994- Gun Free Schools Act – 1yr expulsion and referral to criminal/juvenile justice system Rationale Response to increased school violence Protect students/School Safety Fairness/Consistency Strict guidelines for punishment Respect for rules Easy to enforce (no gray areas) Rationale Misbehavior largely product of home life (Rausch, 2004) Case by case basis too time consuming for administrators Students respect rules more and feel safer (consistency and strictness) Zero tolerance is the only viable option In Practice Positives – Gun-Free Schools Act increased consistency of enforcement of rules and severity of punishments – Increased equity of punishment between males and females for threats/violence Negatives – Minorities 2-3 times more likely to be suspended/expelled (Skiba 2004) – Unfair to Minorities, Low-Income, Special needs – Students resent policies and regard them as unfairly strict, lose trust in educational system More Negatives Higher rates of suspension/expulsion – 30-50 percent repeat offenders (Skiba 2004) – Associated with higher drop out rates, lower academic achievement, less focus on academics Policies other than federal firearms policies highly inconsistent – Severity of punishments varies – Application varies by district, school, and teacher Legal Ramifications Is the suspension rational? Does the action disrupt school operation? Did the student have knowledge of the possession? Was there due process (rights weren’t violated)? Zero tolerance polices have several variations. Conflicts New Jersey v. T.L.O. reasonable cause Seal v. Morgan Intent 4th amendment The judicial system tries to avoid interfering with Zero Tolerance Ratner v.Loundoun County Public Schools Alternatives Preventative models 1)positive school environment bullying prevention, character education 2) early identification/ intervention 3) effective response to offenses Rehabilitative, Individualized behavior plans Democratic Classroom Strategies, students involved in making of rules and punishments Punishments appropriate to offense Alternatives Cont. – Eight factors for context of offense(Kajs, 2006): Student’s age, gender, and grade level Special considerations (e.g. special needs) Seriousness of Offense Circumstances of offense Student's behavioral history Student's attitude/socio-emotional development level impact of offense on community Student’s resiliency level – Responses to offenses can be either punitive or non- punitive References Essex, N. (2006). A teacher’s pocket guide to school law. Boston: Pearson. Ch.5 Kajs, L. (2006). Reforming the discipline management process in schools: An alternative approach to zero tolerance. Education Research Quarterly, 29(4), 16-28, Retrieved October 15, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database. Pelliccioni, C. (2003, Summer 2003). Is intent required? Zero tolerance, scienter, and the substantive due process rights of students. Case Western Reserve Law Review, 53(4), 977. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database. Rausch, M., & Skiba, R. (2004). Unplanned outcomes: suspensions and expulsions in Indiana. Education Policy Briefs, 2(2), 1-8. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from ERIC database. Ritter, S., Rausch, M., & Skiba, R. (2004). "Discipline is always teaching": effective alternatives to zero tolerance in Indiana's schools. Education Policy Briefs, 2(3), 1-12. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from ERIC database. Sadker, D. M., Sadker M.P., & Zittleman, K.R. (2008). Teachers, schools, and society. Boston: McGraw Hill. Skiba, R. (2004). Zero tolerance: the assumptions and the facts. Education Policy Briefs, 2(1), 1-18. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from ERIC database.
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