Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SCHOOLS End Zero Tolerance

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SCHOOLS End Zero Tolerance

Article excerpt

Zero tolerance policies sounded logical when they came into vogue several years ago, during an era of increased concern about drugs, weapons and violence in schools. But they are simply too inflexible, as was shown again when documents were filed before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving an eighth-grade Virginia student.

Benjamin Ratner's ordeal began when a classmate said she had brought a knife, hidden in her notebook, and was contemplating suicide. Benjamin persuaded her to give him the wrapped weapon -- which he placed in his locker with the intent to take it home and give to his mother, asking her to speak to the girl's parents.

When school officials learned from another student that Benjamin had a weapon in his locker, however, he was suspended from classes for four months.

Officials acknowledged that the young man's actions were "noble" and "admirable." They conceded that he posed no threat to himself or others. But under the school's zero tolerance policy, they emphasized, it didn't matter why the knife was in his locker -- only that it was there. …

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