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Do Zero Tolerance Policies Go Too Far?

  • Blog Post by: Samara Postuma
  • May 8, 2014 - 1:54 PM

The story of Alyssa Drescher from Faribault County is all over the news, the web and the papers. Alyssa, a junior in high school, was expelled for the remainder of the school year, originally permanently, because a pocket knife, used for farm chores, was found in her purse at school.  The rule is the rule, says the school and expulsion is imminent for bringing a weapon at school. Her family and supporters though beg for reasoning and Alyssa worries about her future. 

Zero tolerance policies started to gain momentum in the 90's and supporters of them say that because there is no gray area, there are no exceptions or even favoritism. Yet those who criticize the policies say they are ineffective and typically cause severe consequences and repercussions for minor offenders. 

The rules are the rules and in my mind, the clearer the better, yet shouldn't some discretion be available to administrators? 

I can honestly see both sides. Alyssa's story is not unique, there are stories upon stories about how an honor student who doesn't have a reported history of trouble making makes an honest mistake and is punished. But if schools give preferential treatment or make an exception, does that allow other students to commit the same offense and claim it was a mistake as well?

What do you think? As a parent or community member how do you think this situation should be handled and then just for a minute pretend it was your kid, would you think differently? 

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