I’ve made it clear in column after column that the public should have little tolerance for zero tolerance school discipline policies. Here’s another reason not to. A 7-year-old Maryland boy was suspended for two days for chewing a strawberry breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and saying, “Bang, bang.” In Pennsylvania, a 5-year-old was suspended for talking to classmates about shooting her “Hello Kitty” gun. The “gun” blows bubbles.
I get it. Schools are on high alert since Newtown. And I don’t disagree that when students present a real threat to others, they must be removed immediately. But the above cases didn’t come close to reaching that bar. Any infractions below that level can, and should, be handled at school by a team that includes the principal, school counselor/psychologist, parents and the students.