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So Much for Zero Tolerance

Friday, July 12, 2013

We've been reporting with great frequency on ridiculous cases involving over-zealous school officials misinterpreting and wrongly enforcing "zero-tolerance" rules.

In March, and again last month, we reported on one of the most outrageous cases--that of a seven-year-old Baltimore, Md. student who was suspended for two days for the nefarious act of shaping a breakfast pastry into what his teacher thought looked like a gun.  Yes, his teacher thought a breakfast pastry was enough of a danger to take the little boy directly to the principal's office for immediate discipline, to include a suspension and a permanent record. 

Last month we also reported on a remarkably severe "zero-tolerance" case in Calvert County, Md., where a 5-year-old brought a cowboy-style, orange-safety-tipped toy cap gun onto his school bus to show to his friend, who had allegedly brought a water gun on the bus a day earlier.  As a result, the kindergartner was questioned by school officials for more than two hours before he wet his pants and his mother was called.  How long does it take to ask a 5-year-old a few questions?  His sister--a first-grader--was also questioned, and the little boy was threatened with a 10-day suspension--which would  keep him out of classes the rest of the school year--and the prospect of the matter becoming a part of the his permanent school record.

Other incidents include a North Carolina high school student and Eagle Scout who was arrested and suspended after accidentally parking on campus with a gun in his car, and a West Virginia eighth-grade student who was suspended and arrested after wearing an NRA t-shirt to school.

But this continued unreasonable, zero-common-sense enforcement of "zero tolerance" policies does have its limits, and those limits apparently apply to the politically privileged.

According to a recent Daily Caller article, an aide to anti-gun U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) got off with a warning after bringing a gun--a real gun, not a breakfast pastry or toy cap gun--into a government building, which is strictly prohibited. 

The article notes how security officers at a federal building in downtown Detroit found the gun in the purse of Betty Petrenz, Conyers' office manager.  And remember:  Conyers is a very outspoken anti-gun legislator, who is "F" rated by NRA's Political Victory Fund.  Yet Petrenz received no formal charges or punishment; she only received a ticket, which will be stricken from her record if she demonstrates good behavior.  Talk about hypocrisy. 

This privileged treatment stands in stark contrast not only to the cases mentioned above, but, as the article further notes, to the more severe punishment meted out to three other people who inadvertently brought their personal firearms into the same federal court building, and were either fired, forced to resign, or criminally charged.  

So "zero-tolerance" apparently applies only to school children and average citizens; not to the "protected" class of political elites.

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