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Lawmakers Take Aim At Zero Tolerance Policies After KD Investigation

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Have zero tolerance polices gone too far?

A Pittsburgh high school student forgets he has a box cutter in his pocket after cutting a Christmas tree off the family car and sets off the school metal detector the next day.

“Because, you know, a 15-year-old made this silly mistake that anybody could have made, he was suspended for 10 days,” said parent Lynn Tomasits.

Then, there’s the kindergartner in eastern Pennsylvania that was suspended for pointing a Hello Kitty bubble gun at another student.

“There’s hundreds upon hundreds of absurd cases,” said attorney Phil DiLucente.

Now, state lawmakers are taking notice.

“I believe that it is time to adjust the law to make it more sensible,” said Pa. Rep. Paul Costa.

School zero tolerance policies stem from a state law demanding that any student who comes to school with a weapon be expelled for one year, weapons being defined as anything from a gun to a nail file.

The student may appeal, but faces immediately suspension, usually for 10 days.

State Rep. Hal English says the law and such policies take reason away from school administrations.

“Especially in this area,” said Rep. English. “We have school administrator that are good decision makers, they are high salaried, there’s a lot of review in their decision making and their backgrounds.”

The lawmakers want to revise the law to give more discretion and guidance to schools districts, perhaps allowing those administrators to confer with the student and their parents before taking action.

“Sit down first and have the discussion before someone is suspended or expelled,” said Rep. Costa.

RELATED LINKS:
Parents Question Schools’ Zero Tolerance Policies (2/25/14)
More Reports by Andy Sheehan

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