Zero Tolerance Meaning Unclear 

Zero Tolerance Meaning Unclear 
Posted by FoM on October 24, 1999 at 14:36:33 PT
By Ernie Ching
Source: LA Times
The continuing debate over "zero tolerance" demonstrates the obvious need for clarification. No one seems to have decided on a definition on which all can agree. 
In the Tustin Unified School District, zero tolerance is confined to the following four specific areas: (1) While on school grounds(2) while going to or coming from school (3) during lunch period whether on or off campus(4) during or while going to or from a school-sponsored activity.   At issue is whether a private camp attended by Foothill High student government leaders falls within the district's limited and specific definition of a school-sponsored activity. In fact, that is the heart of the problem. It is not that the concept of zero tolerance is bad, rather it is the particular definition and application of a zero-tolerance policy that has gone awry. Enforcement of a "one-size-fits-all" policy makes no sense.   Former Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren, in an attorney general opinion issued in April 1998, stated: "A finding that does not take into account individualized circumstances (such as the pupil's tractable nature or genuine remorse), may deny the pupil's right to due process."   The absence of a clear definition and school officials' failure to follow its policy compelled the TUSD board to rescind the involuntary transfers.   The U.S. Supreme Court reminds us "that public school students do not shed their constitutional rights upon reaching the schoolhouse door." An inquiry as to school officials' actions is warranted. To simply focus on the students' misdeeds is unfair. ERNIE CHING Tustin Sunday, October 24, 1999 Copyright 1999 Los Angeles Times 
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