Good thing this menace has been addressed:
The Penn Hills school board will decide Tuesday night whether or not a 15-year-old student should be expelled for showing up at school with an eyebrow shaver in her handbag.
A Linton Middle School teenager was expelled after a random search turned up an eyebrow shaver in her handbag on May 4.
Officials at the Penn Hills school recommended that Taylor Ray Jetter be expelled for the rest of this year and 45 days next year.
The state’s Safe School Act defines a weapon as any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nun chuck, firearms, rifle and any other tool capable of inflicting bodily harm.
I also have learned from a source she tore the warning labels off of her mattress and is fond of carrying 3.5 ounces of fluid onto airplanes. This from another report had me screaming at the monitor:
The school released a statement saying it has a standard disciplinary policy that addresses all students equally.
Thank goodness for that.
Just curious, how many of you think this is going to instill a sense of respect for authority in this kid?
Zero tolerance = zero judgement
It’s fucking JUNE and students are still in school?
I’ve always marveled at the “no tolerance” concept. What stops the teased and vindictive nerd from planting knives in 15 backpacks, then narc, then watch 15 students get expelled? With no ability for the “guilty” to ajudicate and apppeal such shenanigans, what stops kids from fucking around like this to peeps they hate?
LA Confidential Pantload
Jesus H. Fuck, I grew up in Penn Hills. They must be huffing all that natural gas they struck.
By the way, why is a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD in middle school?
kommrade reproductive vigor
YOU’LL SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT!
No pencils, no pens, no rulers. Oh my God, a set of house keys could carve you right up. What about pointy-toed shoes? And no hard bound books in the library. Imagine the damage a dictionary or one of the later Harry Potter books could do.
I see no hands.
kommrade reproductive vigor
I have no damn idea what landed my previous comment in moderation. If s h o e s triggers the alarms, I will be forced to mock John once a day for the rest of the year.
Come on. Respect for authority has prevented us from asking the questions we should have asked about Vietnam, Iraq and soon to be Iran.
The opposite of respect for authority is thinking for yourself, not anarchy or disregard for order. This kid may be one of the lucky few with firsthand eperience of the stupidity of massification and arbitrary rule-making motivated by fear.
All it means is that by 18 he will have the same massive cynicism it took the rest of us 30-40 years to acquire.
Like Balconesfault said, Zero Tolerance = Zero Brainpower.
I saw Zero Tolerance sweep the redneck north florida area when i was in high school in the early 90’s. Everybody was nuts for Zero Tolerance and DARE. Simple, clear rules, with no lib’ral bureaucrats to interfere with us
gettin them darkiesuh getting drugs out of school. Of course, the usual suspensions for advil, expulsions for nail files, etc. happened. People around here love authoritarian Tough on DarkiesCrime measures, and then they hit the roof when little sarah gets arrested for having a nail file in her purse, and they’re too stupid to grasp the relationship between those two things.
Third Eye Open
Wow, how fucking ignorant.
“any other tool capable of inflicting bodily harm”
So I guess that means no more shoe-laces, piano-wire or coins larger than a quarter, seeing as all those are easily turned into garrote-like weapons.
I would say that to apply this law equally, one would have to hold classes in a padded room with everyone naked and chained up.
That’s not unusual. A lot of it depends on when the kid’s birthday is, and when the cutoff date is for grade assignment.
Depends on the middle school. If it extends to 9th grade, then that’s perfectly reasonable. Actually, it’s perfectly reasonable for her to be in 8th grade, as that would mean she was held back a year. No biggie.
Zero tolerance rules are the supposedly easy way to avoid lawsuits. But from what I see, all they do is cause more headaches. I also noticed when I was teaching that the rules were never enforced equally. It always depended on who your parents were and who they knew on the school board or administration. When I was in high school, I also noticed the zero tolerance rules never seemed to apply the same way to the sports heroes the way it applied to the rest of us.
Some people pay lots of money for that.
Sure, we impose the death penalty for talking in class, but it’s a standard disciplinary policy that addresses all students equally, so what’s the problem?
This may be the first time I have ever seen the singular noun ‘nun chuck’. Does that mean just one stick with some chain or rope hanging off it?
I don’t care about that. How many think that this kid will grow up thinking that government is competent to do anything?
If you wanted to drown government in a bathtub, you could hardly do more damage than to demonstrate that government is afraid of normal 15 year old girls.
This isn’t about administering justice or teaching kids judgment and perspective. It’s about minimizing legal liability. Make a rule, spell it out, enforce it inflexibly. As Balconesfault said above, “zero tolerance = zero judgment.”–that’s feature, not a bug.
It’s pretty common for middle schools in PA to run grades 7-9.
Wile E. Quixote
I have to wonder if this school offers cooking and shop classes like the junior high school I went to. You know, those classes where you have lots of sharp pointy objects for cutting things.
Also could someone enlighten me on the difference between our educational system and our prison system? If you meet certain criteria (being a minor or being convicted of a felony) you have to go to either school or prison. While you are in school or prison your civil liberties and freedom of movement are curtailed and you’re subject to random searches. Some schools even require that you wear uniforms just as prisons require that you wear orange jumpsuits.
Are you allowed to go to school without having your fingernails removed? You could leave a scratch!
Like scissors? Or a pencil?
@Wile E. Quixote: The difference is directional. We’re more than happy to put students in prison, but not really interested in providing educational opportunties for prisoners.
Meanwhile there are terrible opportunities for someone to inflict paper cuts on others with all those books in school. Something ought to be done.
@kommrade reproductive vigor:
Not to mention the mayhem that could be perpetrated with the wire from a coil-bound notebook.
now hank, if i were to show even the smallest bit of tolerance, it wouldn’t be zero tolerance…
So depending at what point in the year the “infraction” occurs, with the 45 days from the NEXT year – a kid could loose 2 full years of school.
Haven’t these people seen The Silence Of The Lambs? As I recall, the mayhem starts with a ballpoint pen …
Although, to take the lessons of that movie a bit further, I suppose we could educate our children in a manner that would make these administrators feel safe (well, at least make them feel less endangered) if we outfitted the students with straightjackets, perspex cages, and masks like that nifty one Anthony Hopkins wears, and of course keep the students well away from all writing implements …
My word! Good thing they stopped this monster before she trimmed some innocent student’s…eyebrows!
If this shaver is what I think it is it’s about as dangerous as a frigging pencil. Possibly even less dangerous than a freshly sharpened pencil. Are pencils considered dangerous instruments in schools nowadays?
Idiocy in America most certainly starts in its schools and it starts at the administration level. It’s a wonder any student escapes such institutions with an iota of common sense.
Davis X. Machina
This is the civil-law version of defensive medicine.
If you have no discretion, you can’t abuse your discretion.
If you can’t abuse your discretion, you can’t be sued.
Nothing. Although I think the nerds are in far greater danger from the jocks (as usual). If I recall correctly, the strip-search case that the Supremes just FUBARed involved a kid getting caught in possession of illicit Advil who claimed (not honestly) that she’d gotten then from a classmate. The classmate was the one strip-searched, possibly because Teh Authorities judged her social status to be low enough that her single mother wouldn’t raise a stink, and besides who listens to those people anyway. Just one more form of “accidental education” for tomorrow’s citizen-voters!
The Other Steve
@Wile E. Quixote:
Are you talking about the way we build our schools to look like prisons?
Bob in AZ
As a junior in HS, my son took some cigarets and a lighter to school one day; they were discovered in a random search of backpacks. He was suspended for 10 days. I thought that was a lot, but OK. What wasn’t ok was that his transcript now reports the incident as “possession of a controlled substance” and “possession of an explosive device.” They can’t change it or include a statement from the student because “it’s school policy.”
Police state, anyone?
I think instructors should regularly check to make sure that students in final exams aren’t wearing someone else’s face.
This may be the first time I have ever seen the singular noun ‘nun chuck’. Does that mean just one stick with some chain or rope hanging off it?
That’s where you start chucking nuns at your classmates.
Ah, the benefits of a Catholic education.
Also, I just absolutely despised junior high and high school, but I am so very happy that I was in school before all these mad zero-tolerance and anti-nerd policies got put into place.
I read descriptions of some of the things teachers and administrators do to the kids who aren’t popular or athletic enough to get special treatment, and I figure they’da had me in the county lockup for sure. Probably for reading Stephen King and Agatha Christie novels, which I was entirely addicted to in high school. Why, it’s almost like I was planning something…
In California, at least, prisons are a lot better funded.
Don’t anyone forget the danger of cleaning the erasers. That chalk dust causes limited visibility and then who knows what will happen. Won’t somebody think of the children?
Prisoners have more rights and better lawyers.
I have a very hard time with people that hide behind ‘policy’ definitions. I own a small business and I don’t care what you think the ‘policy’ is, I never expect you to check your brain at the front door when you come to work.
This thread is rife with the pre-9/11 mindset. They should charge this dangerous young woman with possession of a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy to commit genocide.
They should also waterboard the bitch to find out how she got the eyebrow shaver in the first place. God knows we don’t need a bunch of those weapons floating around.
I think it was Lynyrd Skynyrd who once said: “Eyebrow shavers are meant for killing. They ain’t no good for nothing else.”
That’s retail. :P
Soon they’ll erect a statue to the first kid who had to wear a helmet while riding a tricycle or Kevlar body armor when playing little league baseball.
That kid grew up to be Homo Paranoidus Americanus, fashioning a society where cigarettes are a controlled substance and words hurt like brickbats.
TenguPhule, I’ve had a long day and you made me laugh.
I owe you a beer!
Adults are fucking retards.
I don’t know how ethical this is, but let me tell you what I do in those situations. I pay a discount lawyer $300 to send a scary letter to the offending party. Now, that’s all I got. I can’t go to trial. I never have more than $1,000 in the bank, and even discount lawyers want at least 3-5 grand to go to trial. But 90% of the time, the recipient doesn’t know that or doesn’t care. They want the situation to go away. Send the offender a letter from so and so, attorney at law, and you’d be amazed how quickly a mid-level guy is calling you asking how we can put this unfortunate situation behind us.
My parents are the kind of county, salt-of-the-earth spit-in-their-hand-and-shake-yours types, and when they saw me do that once they were ashamed.
…until my brother moved and Direct TV faked his signature on a renewal form, billed him for $400, then sent it to collections. They called Direct TV three or four times, nothing changed. They were about to write the collections agency a check for the full amount. I went to a lawyer I knew on Wednesday, the problem was solved by the following Friday, 9 days later, for $250.
I bet small claims court would be even cheaper, prob just file a claim for like $150, but I haven’t tried that route. I expect you might get the same result though. Anyone confronted with a suit of any type is probably thinking money is about to stream out the window at a rapid clip, and therefore has an incentive to settle things. But I’m just guessing, i’m not a lawyer and not even particularly well-informed about the legal system.
BTW, anybody know what collection agencies pay for debt? My friend Matt G. was evicted from an apt complex in Durham 3 years ago, it’s on his credit report, and he wants me to call them and negotiate. I’m guessing they paid $.05 to $.20 on the dollar, and can strike a deal with them for anywhere above that, but it’d be helpful if someone in the dunning industry could tell me what the avg amount is before I try to call these guys and act like I know what i’m talking about.
(PS why do collection agencies always have letter-salad names, like CXG Enterprises, and LDR Finance Agency etc?)
@kommrade reproductive vigor: It is, indeed, s h o e s that landed you in moderation, so now you have to fulfill your (easy) promise of mocking John once a day.
@Scott: I’m with you. I hated school, too, but I would hate it even more now.
@Anne Laurie: This is one thing Justice Ginsberg cited when she said it would be good to have more women on the court because the male justices just didn’t understand how humiliating such a search would be.
Swear to whomever, if I had kids, I would teach them to be adamant about calling me the minute they were about to be disciplined in school.
Zero tolerance was a stupid policy, is a stupid policy, will always be a stupid policy.
Wile E. Quixote
Probably because letter-salad names sound better than descriptive names like “Lying Scumfuck Vulture Collections” or “Shitbird, Douchebag and Fuckstain Debtor Harassment Agency”.
@Wile E. Quixote: Yes, and more intimidating. I think they mean to sound like law firms or something. Although, those are usually, “Beckinwith, Foresythe III, & Cheatem” and such.
You know what else is a (much) better weapon than an eyebrow shaver? A nice big hardcover textbook. Or better yet, a whole bag full of books. Can you imagine the damage you could do to someone swinging a huge bag of hard, heavy objects at them? God forbid any student get their hands on that lethal combination. Ok, so no books, no bags. We’ve covered pencils and pens, also better weapons than eyebrow shavers, so ban them too. Moving on, we have computers. They aren’t very good weapons in and of themselves but they require power cords and such to run, you could surely use those to strangle or whip someone with, so get the computers out of there. And staplers of course, although those are usually responsible for self-inflicted wounds but we can’t be too careful. Speaking of which, paperclips can be twisted up in all manner of shapes and I wouldn’t put it past one of these kids to make a decent weapon out of those, so they’re out. And paper itself too, you can fold that stuff into god knows what, and it can give you a nasty cut under the right circumstances. What else do we have? Well, most classrooms have flags in them, and flags are typically mounted on heavy wooden or metal poles, so ditch the flags. Ok, that’s most of the more-dangerous-than-an-eyebrow-shaver items, but I feel like I’m missing something. Hmm… oh right, fists. Fists are much better weapons than an eyebrow shavers, and feet too, really…
Alright, so, here’s my plan: we eliminate books, backpacks, pencils, pens, backpacks, staplers, paperclips, paper, computers, flags and we cut off all the student’s arms and legs. Then, and only then, will our schools once again be safe.
Wile E. Quixote
Is “nun chucking” anything like dwarf tossing? Man I’d hate to run into an irate nun-chucker, I mean have you seen the size of some of the nuns out there? Piss off a guy who can pick up one of those Bridezillas of Christ and chuck her around and you could be looking at some serious damage.
Back when I was married, my husband phoned a client who was late paying, and simply said he was calling on behalf of (redacted) and when could she expect her money. That check showed up pretty damn quick.
@Bob in AZ:
Rules like that are what lawsuits are for.
We complain a lot about how easy it is to sue and cite often false reports of ridiculous lawsuits as our evidence. But without some recourse rigid administrators would rule the world. They still often do if the world is small enough, like a high school or junior high.
Yes, prisons do tend to have pretty decent curricula.
The average prisoner has more freedom of movement that the average grade-schooler. More yard time too.
Eyebrow shaver, AK-47.
Not to mention high-stakes testing!
Oh, you guys! Keep it up. I sorely need a laugh right now.
Allan, you win thus far.
Don’t middle schoolers still use compasses? That thing is a big metal needle, but have been used for generations.
I actually had my compass taken off me by an overzealous security guard. He insisted on taking me to see the principal right up until the moment that most of the 50 kids watching this farce took theirs out too. Only then did he relent.
@Charon: Oh god, this is teeeeeeh best! You must be fairly young to have gone to school with security guards.
J. Michael Neal
I won’t ever have any kids, but I have some friends that recently have. They plan to homeschool to avoid this crap. I offered to teach the math.
I’m 27. The security guard wasn’t a permanent feature. The school had been vandalised repeatedly in the previous months, and the school board decided to shell out for extra sets of eyes. The principal then figuered “why let my facist wet dreams be left by the wayside?” and assigned the watchers to inspect incoming students in addition to their anti-vandal activities. Parents complained and the guards were gone within 2 weeks.
Edited for stupid spelling errors
No, I will not need a tray. I do not need a tray to kill you. I can kill you without a tray, with the power of the Force, which is strong within me. Even though I could kill you with a tray if I so wished. For I would hack at your neck with the thin bit until the blood flowed across the canteen floor.
That’s a lot of work just to get some penne al arabbiata. Just use the lightsaber, dude.
@Charon: You’re kidding me. I’m glad the parents complained. I’m an old thirty-eight, so the concept of security guards in school is after my time.
@srv: I. love. Eddie. Izzard. He is fucking funny (and, yeah, so, hot).
I actually have a scar on my hand from a wire-bound notebook — almost 25 years, and it’s still there (barely, but still there). Those little bastards are sharp.
All I’ve ever wanted to figure out is, who is it that supports this crap? These rules don’t come out of thin air – someone, somewhere, decided this was a good idea. But this isn’t a left/right issue – seemingly everyone in the world thinks ZT is fucking retarded. But that can’t be right, because it’s the policy at every school (or at least it seems that way). So who is driving this thing?
OT: Darkrose, are you out there? I read your recommendation of Thoughtcrimes on another thread, but I can’t find it anywhere. Any thoughts?
I sent this to John, but he apparently doesn’t think theremin playing cats are cool.
As Davis X. Machina said upthread @30, ZT was dreamed up as a way to avoid liabilty in discrimination suits. It was then embraced by power hungry principals and people who feel that today’s society is too permissive.
Sorry, no links to back up this claim but I am basing it on half remembered articles not purely supposition.
@asiangrrlMN: Don’t forget the esteemed law firm, Dewey, Cheatham & Howe.
@Jeff Berardi If they expel her, I’m sure a lawyer could make a creative case for reinstating her or truly maintaining zero-tolerance by expelling the entire school based on the examples you gave (danger of: braining someone with a heavy textbook, pen or pencil stabbing, etc.).
@srv: That cat is adorable! Is s/he yours?
@iluvsummr: Heh. No kidding. Click and Clack! I agree. A lawyer could make hay of the “zero tolerance” policy.
Srv, great response, but I really don’t see how you could justify using the Youtube version you chose instead of the objectively superior Lego version.
Wile E. Quixote
Perhaps we should take up a collection and get this guy to represent her. I’m sure he’d make mincemeat out of the district lawyers.
@Warren Terra: Man, I love that version of it, too.
@Wile E. Quixote: Yeah, but he makes me want to smack him. I’m not sure that’s a good thing in court. Plus, he looks like Ratface Pawlenty. Shudder.
Man, they are lucky that none of those school kids were like McGyver. Damn, can you imagine what a school of McGyvers could do? Nuclear dudes, NUCLEAR!
@LD50: Um, she, unless boys are carrying handbags and eyebrow shavers these days. It’s hard to keep up sometimes.
IANAL, but I would think that the case would devolve into a stupid argument over what constitutes a “tool” when the obvious answer of course is the commitee that wrote the zero tolerence policy.
Or, more likely the judge would look at the recent spate of Supreme Court rulings, decide that the school was within its rights (in loco perentis and all of that) and dismiss the suit at summary judgement.
Which brings up the question, was David Broder ever banned from school simply for being David Broder?
@Martin: And better paid wardens.
Of course not. When he attended school it was the late 1700’s and everyone was still required to carry knives to sharpen their quills. Tools were an absolute necsessity in education back then.
I thought that was John McCain.
You say tomato and I say tomahto.
I’m fairly certain we’ve seen McCain and Broder at the same place at the same time.
Of course, their lips never move in synch.
Same reason Blackwater is changing its name to “Xe”. They don’t want the neighbors or their kids finding out how they really make a living.
As for nun chucking, anyone who attended parochial school during the 1960s will attest that at least one nun in every grade level could, and did, skim those old-fashioned heavy felt blackboard erasers at classroom miscreants with deadly accuracy and great force. Seriously — they could leave bruises, especially upon repeat offenders, usually sixth-grade boys who would parade their ‘battle colors’ as a mark of honor. One nun at SNT used a wooden pointer as a javelin until one of her targets ducked at the wrong time & took the rubber end in the face instead of the chest. (This being a working-class neighborhood of first-generation Irish/Italian/Polish immigrants, the ‘victim’s’ parents gave him a second beating rather than suing, but the principal decided the kid’s black eye was a bad advertisement for the school’s disciplinary reputation.) I would rather face Chuck Norris with a pair of nunchucks than Sister Jane Edwards with an eraser, even today, and Sister Jane Edwards would be approximately 90 years old if she’s still alive.
@Punchy: Well, last year there was this tweezer incident…
OT: Anne Laurie, have you looked back in at the comment thread for “Field Guide to Womb Bigots, Pt. 2”? I was curious about what you thought of the general tone and direction of the thread. I’m not asking for comment on any specific comment or position, just a general impression.
This could be a Timecop sort of a deal where they can both live in the same reality so long as they don’t make physical contact with each other. If they do, the quantum probabilities collapse and both cease to exist.
I’m out of juice (both literally and metaphorically.) ‘Night all.
@Punchy: Seriously: With the usual idiots in charge of network security and the typical idiot in charge of personal security, it takes next to nothing. 5 years before I bought my first computer I had already researched keyloggers, re-written the official school security program, and installed DOOM on over a dozen machines. Granted, this was back when hallway monitoring was more important than network monitoring, but if a 15 year old who had never owned a computer could compromise an entire school district network… whoa.
If you let one mofo who (in my day the expression was “program his vcr”, but I’ll go with “program his DVR” to keep current) any privleged access, expect no mercy.
A school is the perfect hierarchical organization to let arbitrary and capricious members thrive. By that same token they also let the resentment of the “organized” to build. This leads to rather uncomfortable meritocratic alignments. This rarely ends well for the explorer.
Of course, the douche bags (exploiters) who want to run things usually will take an exploit and ruin it, but those are the consequences of entitlement.
This post got way too long.
I’m 39, and we had security guards at my high school back in the 80s. And while I was a student, a girl there was suspended for bringing a butter knife to school to peel an orange at lunch. This stuff isn’t new.
I can’t help but wonder if some of these school boards (many of which are being invaded by ID types) do this in part to hasten along their destruction of the public school system. Because crap like this makes me wonder if it would be better to home school than put my kids in jeopardy, you know, by sending them to school.
It isn’t about protection from civil liability, or lawsuit abuse.
The Safe Schools Act(s) immunize “authorized personnel” from civil liability.
It’s almost impossible to prevail at the hearing process. If you’re carrying… whatever, the sanction applies. It’s the school equivalent of a mandatory minimum. That’s about the extent of the inquiry. “Is the following TRUE…, if so, X days suspension”.
The best you can do is avoid a referral to the prosecutor, because then these incidents can really spin out of control.
kommrade reproductive vigor
@Scott: Ya gotta catapult the Creed of the Apostles.
Bob In Pacifica
They just kicked all the kids out of school in California.
I haven’t read all the comments, but isn’t the basic reality that these idiotic “zero tolerance” policies are the product of the fact that people today can and do sue over anything? In a world where any judgment made can result in a lawsuit, you’re going to end up with a world where no one is ever willing to make a judgment call.
You think they’re trying to instill a respect for authority? Because I’m thinking fear is the goal with these policies or, at the very least, it’s a perfectly acceptable outcome.
Respect allows for questioning and that’s a lot of hassle for the average, busy authoritarian. Fear subdues.
No. That isn’t the reason.
The Safe Schools’ Act(s) immunize “authorized personnel” from civil liability.
This myth that people sue school systems for money damages as a result of disciplinary procedures seems to have caught on.
Don’t laugh, it’s not funny at all. I went to Ninja school and learned who to kill a man 32 different ways using a tweazer.
The schools are scared of a Columbine-type incident.
The problem, as in all rules like this one, is one of inequity in charging, not enforcement. Once the infraction is discovered, and the “charge” is officially leveled, all of the students are treated the same.
But who gets searched/charged? Kids they want to get rid of anyway. Kids who are settling some score, so turn each other in.
The bias comes in bringing the charge. That’s discretionary. The sanction is non-discretionary.
The kids know it, too.
Do you know how hard it is normally to get a kid expelled? You could show up every day and fight, yell at your teachers, never do your homework, skip class, and just generally misbehave in every possible way that doesn’t involve bringing a “weapon” (or grooming tool) to school and never be expelled.
I realize there is an ideal of consistent discipline (and lawsuit avoidance) with “zero tolerance”, but personally I think discretion, common sense, and judgment have their place, even in middle school.
@jibeaux: I suspect these ‘zero tolerance’ policies aren’t consistently administered at all– it’s an excuse to ‘get’ the ‘troublemakers.’
My teacher raised her eyebrows at me first!
I used the shaver in my handbag only in self-defense!
Maybe, but obviously the problem with discretion and judgment as opposed to zero tolerance is that it would be rather easier to target the troublemakers. This particular instance was reported to be the result of a random search. With a random search + common sense, you could toss the eyebrow shaver, tell her to please not bring things like that back to school as it could conceivably be used as a weapon if you were very patient and only wanted to inflict a little bit of harm, and send her on her way. With a random search + zero tolerance, you have to treat her the same way you’d treat someone with a 9 mm in their purse.
I think that’s a really, really dumb result, but the troublemaking kid with the 9 mm can’t really argue that they’ve been unfairly targeted. Everyone got searched at random, and you got the same punishment as eyebrow shaver girl — it’s so fair!
I am a “discount lawyer” and can tell you from personal experience that this tactic will work most of the time. Steve, curious as to why you think it might be unethical. A strongly worded letter saying “My client is considering legal action, please contact my office so that we may resolve this matter.” WILL result in a phone call to try to “fix” the problem. No one wants to get sued.
This was unfairly skipped. I’ve bumped it for pure awesomeness!
As long as I am giving out free legal advice (I guess I am a super double-plus discount lawyer):
Bob, you should definitely try at least the letter if not a full blown lawsuit. Most likely they will cave but I may be underestimating the thick-headedness of “zero-intelligence policy” school officials.
It was originally launched in inner-cities where the kids were constantly routing around the school policies. It was pretty limited, though. I suspect the suburbs then realized they could avoid liability with it.
Conservatives LOVE zero tolerance, though. It’s a nice combination of authoritarianism and responsibility shifting, and has really proliferated since the big push to put evolution deniers/abstinence only on school boards started. Education has always taken a back seat to behavioral control with them.
On one of the education blogs I read, a teacher was actually physically attacked by a student and threatened. She had criminal charges pressed against the kid, and the school still wouldn’t expell him because he “had emotional issues”. He was merely removed from her class and placed in in-school suspension. The administration even criticized her decision to press charges, despite the fact that the kid (who was 17 and much bigger than this teacher) made threats against the teacher after the initial attack, including death threats.
I guess maybe she should have put an eyebrow shaver in his locker, then he would have been gone in a second.
I dislike zero tolerance. I’ve been burned by it. My daughter’s been burned by it. Nonetheless, allow me to explain one reason it’s preferred to “common sense”.
If I treat two people differently for functionally the same event, I have set myself up for successful lawsuit unless I can justify the difference. The justification must withstand scrutiny for discrimination – to include class discrimination as well as sex, gender, race, color, religion, and all the rest of the ‘normal’ measures.
Now personally, I’d take it as “eyebrow trimmers are ok”. The problem with that is that you’re going to get the individual who pushes boundaries who’ll bring some monstrosity to school and claim it’s an eyebrow trimmer. Or the one who’ll bring one and use it in a destructive fashion. (Yeah, I’m stretching. Works better with nail files.)
Bottom line is that the teachers and administrators who WANT to use common sense are screwed. Darwin in action – if common sense causes you to lose lots of money and your job while petty dictators just get unhappy parents, guess which survives and continues?
Davis X. Machina
It’s caught on because it actually happens. We average two or three a year, federal legislation notwithstanding, in a rural high school of 700 or so.
@Davis X. Machina:
For money damages, or access to programs?
@Davis X. Machina:
I’d love to know how they’re doing it.
Unless it’s a federal civil rights claim, which is ludicrous, because people don’t have the funds to initiate one, it’s next to impossible where I live.
Your system isn’t immune under any of the various “municipal corporation” exceptions, immunity under state or federal law, or any of the myriad other exceptions?
The only lawsuits that are initiated here have to do with access: they want in. They aren’t suing for damages.
Mike in NC
Attended parochial school in Boston in the early 60s and still have the pyschological, if not physical, scars. Way back then the nuns had to wear the old black habits that almost resembled buquas, so maybe it’s no wonder they were often so damn mean.
We don’t suspend them here, for violations of zero tolerance. We house them at the Alternative Learning Center, or “ALS”.
The “college-bound” students refer to this facility as “Arlen’s Last Chance”.
Arlen if the name of the neighborhood all the students found with contraband (inexplicably) come from.
After a stint there, they usually drop out, so that’s just much easier for everyone.
As it’s often applied, Zero tolerance = Infinite brain dead. Too many jackasses use it as an excuse to turn off what little brain function they possess. Then when presented with that fact, will then often come up with sanctimonious posturing as in this instance: It’s to protect the children.
Don’t live in Penn Hills, but I know those school board people. That type. I could really go on a rant how city government in our little incorporated area (under 20k) has transformed virtually the entire city where our house is into a zero tolerance/brain dead zone in all facets. As I found recently at one city council meeting, I’m not the only one with that impression. Of course, though, we’re the bad apples who don’t appreciate the “positive change” they’ve brought with their untiring diligence.
When we bought our current house, soon after a cop patrolling the area stopped when he saw me in the yard, introduced himself, welcomed us to the neighborhood and said when we take vacations to call the station so they’d keep an extra eye on the property while gone. Very nice and friendly. I half-jokingly invited whenever he was bored on a hot weekend patrol to stop by for a beer; I wouldn’t tell. After that had a few other pleasant conversations with local police officers. It was a very friendly area.
Then the anal retentives popped up a couple of years ago running for mayor and city council. Then they hired a police chief in their image. The last six months especially they’ve been on a mission.
As this comment is already way too long and this thread essentially dead, without detailing it an incident a couple of months ago involving the police on my property sent me ballistic. Went to the police chief’s office and ended the conversation telling him neither he or any of his officers nor any city employee without express permission or a warrant was to put one foot on our property for any reason. Seriously.
Don’t know the Penn Hills council background, but I’ll tell you, at least some self-styled “progressives” looking to “make an impact via local government” (their words) as in our area suck BIG ASS.
Thank God deodorants aren’t considered lethal by the psychotics in charge.
I vote for school levies. I support decent pay for school employees. I was told I was getting grown-up professionals with the ability to use judgment and common sense, and (scary! horrors! ) make some sensible calls regarding risk.
If they’re going to operate on auto-pilot, and follow a set of iron-clad regs like an entry-level fast food employee, I think I can save some money, and hire anyone who wanders in.
Sword of Damocles
I grew up in Penn Hills and actually attended that particular school. It seems the school board is even nuttier now than they were way back when.
Where did you go to school? In my part of MA, we were let out in mid-June. CA lets out in early-to-mid June. September return.
“Zero tolerance” isn’t even the worst of this story, it’s “random search”. Yes, let’s turn the next generation into obedient little citizens. America is doomed and I’m glad my life is already half over.
I sure hope nobody on the school board has seen “Godfather III”.
Thanks for the correction. I guess “half remembered” was an overstatement.
For all intents and purposes suing for access is still a financial penalty for a school district. The district has to keep a lawyer on payroll and presumably has to keep paying teachers and administrators while they take part in a legal action that has nothing to do with their normal responsabilities. Anything that helps to get cases kicked at summary judgement rather than dragging along must be extremely tempting to a school board.
There are some twelve month schools that operate throughout the year, taking more but shorter vacations scattered throughout the year so the parents aren’t stuck with having to find three month long babysitters.
As for the eyebrow shaver, these things do have razors in them, but very tiny ones and I think it would be quite difficult to use them as weapons, personally.
I just think that’s nonsensical.
I fully appreciate that running a school is difficult, but no one promised it was going to be easy.
The threat of someone filing a complaint is not a rational or sufficient reason to completely abandon the judgment calls that professionals make every day.
I would also object to the idea that a lawsuit on access has “nothing to do with their normal responsibilities”.
They’re suing to go to school, or to access an IEP, or to be admitted to a program for disabled students.
That’s the point. Going to school.
Again, it’s complicated and difficult running a school, I imagine, but that’s the nature of the work. It’s messy. Imagining that we’re talking about hushed lecture halls with rapt students focused on the curriculum is probably a pipe dream. Schools look like the town that they’re in, and the students do too.
I guess I wasn’t clear enough. I did not mean to suggest that I agreed with this reasoning or that it followed any kind of reasonable logic tree; only that this was my understanding of how school districts thought re: law suits.
I’m sorry. I was rude. This subject makes me cranky.
I’ve been completely ineffective at doing anything about it. You just hit a brick wall of educator-speech.
Don’t worry about it. Given your reading of my original post you were admirably restrained. Although not a teacher myself, I come from a family of educators. Zero tolerance has me, and them, frustrated as well.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported today (Wed) that one of the geniuses on the Penn Hills School board managed to cut herself with the eyebrow shaver badly enough while examining it to require stitches.
Reminds me of the story I heard of the shop teacher who demonstrated how dangerous the radial arm saw was by chopping off his fingers (but I’m sure that’s an urban legend.)
Wile E. Quixote
My Dad told me that that happened in his shop class in junior high school, except that it was the bandsaw the teacher was demonstrating and not the radial arm saw. According to my Dad, who tells this in such a way as to make it a very funny story, the teacher grabbed his fingers and left the classroom. All of the students then sat around thinking “OK, that was a pretty cool and I get the message, the bandsaw is dangerous if you’re not paying attention. I wonder how he faked the blood and the fingers lying on the saw platform” until the vice principal came in and took over teaching the class.
So I don’t know if it’s an urban legend, but I still laugh when my Dad tells the story.
Maybe its time to end this zero tolorence and get back to some COMMON SENSE I mean ITS HARD TO FLY LIKE A EAGLE WHEN YOUR WORKING FOR TURKEYS