Zero Tolerance Policies

"The disciplinary policies in effect in many schools today apply zero tolerance to public school students in three draconian ways. First, they are blind to the most basic distinctions between types of offenses. In many schools, dangerousness is irrelevant; the penalties are the same for weapons and alcohol, sale and possession, robbery, and disorderly offenses. Offenses that used to be resolved informally with an apology or an after-school detention now lead to formal disciplinary hearings. Second, they require a severe sanction, typically suspension or expulsion, for all of these offenses, regardless of the circumstances of the offense or the intent, history and prospects of the offender. Third, these policies generally mandate some degree of information-sharing with law enforcement. This multiplies the consequences of student misconduct in two directions: out-of-school offenses referred to the child’s school may result in suspension or other sanctions,18 and in-school infractions referred to law enforcement agencies may result in juvenile or criminal prosecution."

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Eric Blumenson, Eva S. Nilsen, "How to Construct an Underclass, or How the War on Drugs Became a War on Education," The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, (May 2002), p. 65.
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