When a Zero Tolerance Policy Makes Zero Sense
A Colorado high school student is suspended for keeping her drill team's "dangerous" fake wooden parade rifles in her car.
February 17, 2009 - 12:30 am
In the meantime, the story got out: Mike Rosen of the Rocky Mountain News and KOA radio talked about it on his morning talk show. It was covered on the local TV news and before long it was getting a lot of attention. It was even a story on Fox News’ “Grapevine” and members of the Colorado Senate were taking an interest.
I spoke to one of them, Colorado State Senator Kevin Lundberg, about the issue. Lundberg agreed that this was a place where the law needed to be changed and that it was his intention to introduce a bill early this week to resolve the question. “We’re not trying to take the teeth out of this law, but to simply give it some common sense.”
Then things started to happen. Morrow’s hearing on February 20 was rescheduled to Thursday, February 12, at 8 a.m. By Friday, she was notified that she would be “expelled” for time served — back in classes on Wednesday, two days before her original hearing was even scheduled.
All’s well that ends well, then, right? For Marie Morrow, apparently so: she’ll be back in school and she’s been assured that this won’t prevent her from accepting an appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy, for which she already has the necessary recommendations. All it cost was, well, days off from school, legal fees, and, I’m sure, a couple of rough days and sleepless nights.
Of course, without the press and public attention, it could have turned out rather differently.
And imagine: without the zero tolerance law, we’d be putting our school administrations in the position of needing to actually think: “Is this a real threat?” Or “this is a good kid and a prop gun; there’s no reason to get excited about it.”
Oh, and one more thing: under the current law, if Marie Morrow were a member of the school’s Junior ROTC, it would have been different: they can carry prop rifles. See, if it’s a school group, they’re no longer frightening facsimiles of deadly weapons.