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Copyright (c) 2004 University of Dayton Law Review
University of Dayton Law Review

COMMENT: ZERO ROOM FOR ZERO TOLERANCE: RETHINKING FEDERAL FUNDING FOR ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES

Fall, 2004

30 Dayton L. Rev. 91

Author

Jill Richards*

Excerpt



I. INTRODUCTION

School is the first place where children should learn tolerance; instead children learn that conduct, even if non-threatening, will not be tolerated as part of a national "get-tough" approach on school violence, drugs, and weapons. For instance, in Florida, a high school senior and National Merit Scholar was suspended for five days and missed his graduation when school officials found a kitchen knife in the back seat of his vehicle. 1 In Pennsylvania, school officials suspended a five-year-old for wearing a five-inch plastic axe to school as part of his fireman's costume on Halloween. 2 In Chicago, a high school student was expelled, taken to jail for seven hours, and encouraged to drop out when he accidentally hit a cafeteria worker with a paper clip, instead of his friend. 3 Such use of intolerance in schools gives new meaning to the phrase, "silly cases . . . make bad law." 4



Cases, like those demonstrated above, are the results of schools implementing discipline rules known as "zero tolerance" ("ZT") policies. A ZT policy is a school or district policy requiring predetermined consequences or punishment for particular offenses without consideration of the circumstances or the disciplinary history of the student. 5



It was the federal government's tie of school funding to anti-gun legislation which resulted in the implementation of ZT policies in schools 6 For example, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ("ESEA") provides funds for schools in numerous areas such as Title ...
 
 
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