Zero Tolerance


ODE Sugested Consideration in Developing a Policy
The Pros and Cons of Zero Tolerance Policies
Does Zero Tolerance Work in Schools?
Zero Out Zero Tolerance
8 Guidelines for Disciplining Bullies at School
What to Do if You Disagree with a Teacher's Discipline Strategies
When to Show Compassion and When to Use Tough Love
How to Work With Your Child's Teacher to Address Behavior Problems
5 Ways to Manage Back-To-School Behavior Problems
How Should I Discipline My Child Who Has Oppositional Defiant Disorder?
When to Show Compassion and When to Use Tough Love
8 Ways to Team Up with Your Child's Teacher to Tackle Behavior Problems
8 Guidelines for Disciplining Bullies at School
What Do Schools Mean By Zero Tolerance?
Does Zero Tolerance Work in Schools?
If Your Child Gets Into Trouble at School These Strategies Can Help
5 Ways to Manage Back-To-School Behavior Problems
9 Ways Teachers Can Prevent Behavior Problems in the Classroom
Disagree with a Teacher's Discipline Strategies? Here's How to Handle It
10 Ways to Discipline Your Child for Bullying Others
8 Ways Educators Can Support Victims of Bullying
What do I do About My Child's Behavior Problems at School?
Parents Need a Discipline Toolbox Filled with Useful Tools
6 Ways to Discipline Your Child without Raising Your Voice
Examples of Zero Tolerance
Here Are 10 Outrageous 'Zero Tolerance' Follies of 2014
9 Outrageous Zero Tolerance Policy Punishments
Zero Tolerance - Policy
Oregon Legislature Passes Bill to Roll Back “Zero Tolerance” Policies
Oregon Legislature Passes Bill to Reform School Discipline and Roll Back “Zero Tolerance” Policies - HB 2192-B Promotes Safe and Productive Learning Environments
How zero tolerance policies have done more harm than good — and what Oregon can do about it
Oregon's School-to-Prison Pipeline
Disproportionate Discipline in Oregon’s K-12 Schools
Reducing School Suspensions Through Legislation
Reduced School Days
Oregon House Bill 2192-School Discipline
Suspension and expulsion patterns in six Oregon school districts
School Discipline Reform in Oregon
A Generation Later: What We’ve Learned about Zero Tolerance in Schools
Multiple responses, promising results: Evidence based, nonpunitive alternatives to Zero Tolerance
How Zero-Tolerance Policies Hurt Kids
Related issue: 

ODE Suggested Consideration in Developing a Policy

The way most school 'Zero Tolerance' programs work fails to address the problem, kills dreams, and sets the students up to fail in society, and therefore, we all lose a part of our future.

Some might say, under their breath, good ridance. We won't have to deal with "them". The fact is, if we don't do everything in our power to deal, in a healthy way, with the problem now, it won't go away and we will have to deal with the problem, in other ways, within the community for years to come.

As you may know, the drop-put rate for BHHS is the highest in Curry County and 50% above the state average of 4.0% in. 2012/13. The dropout rate was 6.0 for Brookings-Harbor, 4.9% for Gold Beach and 1.2% for Port Orford.

Some things the state recommends are:

  • Screen students regularly to spot poor attendance or grades early and get motivation, attendance and academics back on track.
  • Family counseling and student mental health
  • Bringing weak readers up to grade level. Weekly gatherings of teams of adults to monitor warning signs are eerily similar in schools with high graduation rates.
  • Counselors, teachers and administrators plot how to help students who've missed class or assignments. Teachers ask questions, call parents and show they care. "We tell them, 'You are choosing not to do your work and choosing not to go to school, so we are going to help you.'"
  • Paying more attention to struggling students as they enter high school.
  • Counselors meet with every student several times a year and push the ones who need extra time to stick with it

The state reports one bright spot in the last report. It came from looking at students who failed to graduate in four years but were persuaded to return for a fifth year. The state had never tracked them before. It turns out that 71 percent managed to earn diplomas in the extra year. Shouldn't that be our goal?

The sacred mantra should not be 'four years'. The sacred mantra should be 'high school diploma' and the sacred word should be 'finish.' Click here for more infomation.

The Pros and Cons of Zero Tolerance Policies

In 1994, federal legislation required states to expel any student who brought a firearm to school for one year, or lose all federal funding. Many schools have adopted zero tolerance policies to encompass all types of weapons, incidents of bullying, and drugs and alcohol possessions. Zero tolerance policies remain rather controversial and many educators and parents question the effectiveness of such policies.

Support for Zero Tolerance Policies

Many supporters of zero tolerance say that strict policies are necessary to keep the learning environment safe for students. Proponents also report that it doesn’t matter why a particular rule was broken – the fact that it was broken should result in some type of consequence.

Supporters often feel like zero tolerance policies best prepare children for the real world. After all, the police officer usually doesn’t care if you were speeding because you were late for work, you still broke the law. Similarly, your boss may not care what excuse you have for being late, you still might not get paid for the time you missed.

7 Biggest Discipline Mistakes Parents Make

Proponents also say zero tolerance reduces favoritism because there isn’t room for subjectivity. Just because a student is smart or has parents who are involved with the school, there won’t be any room for leniency when the rules are broken.

Zero Tolerance Policy Criticisms

Many critics of zero tolerance policies express concerns that such policies lack “common sense.” For example, there is often little agreement about what constitutes a weapon. A rubber band or nail clippers may be enough to get students suspended. Similarly, a student in possession of ibuprofen may be expelled for drug possession.

The biggest issue most critics have about zero tolerance policies is that they don’t work. In 2008, the American Psychological Association published a report that concluded, “Zero tolerance has not been shown to improve school climate or school safety.” The task force who conducted the study expressed concern that zero tolerance policies were unnecessarily preventing children from getting a public education and causing many children to face legal charges for relatively minor offenses.

In 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics also released a statement criticizing zero tolerance policies. The report expressed concern that such policies are harmful to students because students who receive suspensions and expulsions are 10 times more likely to drop out of high school. Students who are sent home may not have an adult to supervise their activities and they may become more likely to engage in illegal activity.

Alternatives to Zero Tolerance Policies

There are many alternatives to zero tolerance policies that can help keep kids in school while also teaching them valuable life lessons. Of course, violence prevention is one of the best ways to keep everyone in a school system safe. A 2004 study published in the Journal of School Health found that students who feel a sense of belonging in their school are less likely to behave violently. Fostering a sense of community is often key in preventing rule violations and behavior problems.

Restorative justice programs and community service may be better interventions for first time offenders. Determining consequences on a case-by-case basis can prevent overly harsh consequences. Out-of-school suspensions and expulsions could then be reserved for repeat offenders who pose a real risk to school systems.

Dealing with a Zero Tolerance Policy

If your child’s school has a zero tolerance policy, educate yourself about the rules. Understand what the policy covers and make certain your child understands the policy. Take proactive approach to preventing your child from mistakenly breaking the policy by having aspirin in a pocket or a squirt gun in a backpack.

Zero Out Zero Tolerance

Zero tolerance policies hinder bullying prevention efforts. Such policies generally involve suspension or exclusion from school and are related to increased drop out rates and discriminatory application of school discipline practices. Also, there is no evidence that removing students from school makes a positive contribution to school safety. We do know that students who bully need pro-social models. We can advocate for bullied students by working to develop and/or utilize bullying prevention programs that do work, such as:

Targeted behavioral support programs for at-risk students

Character education and social-emotional learning programs

School-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports

Early intervention strategies

How to Work With Your Child's Teacher to Address Behavior Problems

Hearing about your child’s misbehavior at school can be frustrating and downright embarrassing. Whether your child is refusing to do his math papers or he’s disrupting the entire class, don’t despair. Join forces with your child’s teacher and address behavior problems like a team.

1. Create Goals Together

Work with your child’s teacher to create some goals for your child. If your child exhibits multiple behavior issues, start by focusing on one or two at a time. If your child is hitting other kids, for example, whispering to his neighbor during class may not be important to address at the moment. Create a goal to address the most problematic behavior first.

2. Get Proactive About Preventing Problems

Discuss when the behavior problems occur and brainstorm strategies to prevent any issues before they start. If your child seems to only get himself into trouble at recess, inquire about any resources the school may have to help prevent fights with peers.

What Is A Behavior Intervention Plan?

For example, is there a staff member keep a closer eye on your child? Are there certain children he has trouble getting along with? Sometimes simple solutions can very effective in addressing behavior problems.

3. Design a Daily Behavior Report

Sometimes teachers only report to parents when there’s bad news. But if your child is exhibiting behavior problems, it’s essential that you increase the communication. Daily behavior reports provide a quick and easy way for the teacher to keep you updated on your child’s progress. When children know you'll be communicating with the teacher daily, they often feel more motivated to bring home a good report.

There are many different ways to develop a daily behavior report. The report could be as simple as the teacher coloring in a green, yellow, or red face on a piece of paper. Or it could include an email from the teacher with a rating system from 1 to 5, where the teacher rates your child’s behavior. A quick note about any problems or any major gains is also helpful.

4. Establish Positive Consequences

Discuss what will happen if your child improves and establish positive consequences that will keep him motivated. It could be as simple as saying on the days he receives a good report, he can play on the computer when he gets home. Or, perhaps he can earn points with a token economy system that will help him earn bigger rewards if his daily report card looks good.

5. Provide Negative Consequences When Necessary

There will likely be times when negative consequences are needed. Find out how the school plans to address the behavior that requires a negative consequence. For example, will they keep him after school? Will he need to stay in for recess? If the school struggles to find effective consequences, an at-home consequence may be necessary.

6. Explain the Plan to Your Child

Once you’ve worked with the teacher to develop a plan, explain the plan to your child. Make it clear that you’ll be receiving reports about his behavior every day. Tell him what will happen if his behavior improves and explain the negative consequences he’ll incur if he breaks the rules.

7. Meet Regularly to Update the Plan

It’s important to revisit the plan with the teacher at regular intervals. If your child’s behavior isn’t improving, consider making changes to the plan. If you are seeing major improvements, you may be able to work on new goals or perhaps a less restrictive plan.

8. Seek Professional Help When Necessary

If your child continues to exhibit serious behavior problems and you’re not able to address it with the teacher effectively, consider seeking professional help. Inquire if the school has a behavior specialist or anyone else who may be able to assist. Resources vary greatly by school so it’s important to find out what your school has to offer.

It may also be helpful to speak with your child’s doctor. A referral to a mental health specialist may be necessary. Sometimes behavior issues mask underlying mental health issues, like depression or anxiety. At other times, behavior disorders, such as ADHD or ODD, contribute to behavior problems at school.

Examples of Zero Tolerance

The term zero tolerance refers to policies that require a specific punishment for breaking a known rule or law. Zero tolerance policies are enacted as law or in environments such as workplaces or schools.

Examples of Zero Tolerance Policies

  • A school has a rule that no students may create replicas in any way of guns whether for play or in seriousness. One student pretends to play by shaping his hand into a gun during recess time while another student brings a replica gun to school and brandishes it as though he is going to shoot a classmate. Both students receive the same punishment.
  • In a workplace there is a policy against lateness. The person who is 30 minutes late receives the same consequence as someone who is 3 minutes late.
  • In a community there is a "No Drug Zone." A person found with a small amount of marijuana is given the same punishment as a person found with extremely large amounts of cocaine.
  • A school has a no weapons policy and a student receives the same consequence for bringing sharp nail clippers to school as a student who brings a pocket knife.
  • Schools no drug policies can mean that students with cough drops or mouthwash can receive the same punishment as students found in possession of marijuana.
  • A school sexual harassment policy states that no students can kiss or hug in school. As a result, a Kindergarten student who hugs another student can be expelled.
  • A student who brings a model rocket to school can be expelled because the rocket propulsion can be considered a weapon.
  • A zero tolerance terrorist threat policy can mean that a student who yells “I'm going to kill you!” in jest on the playground during recess can receive the same penalty as a student who calls in a bomb threat to the school.
  • A zero tolerance "No Drug Zone" on a work property that includes tobacco can mean that a worker found smoking a cigarette on a break can receive the same consequence as a worker who is found with heroine on the job site.

Reasons for Zero Tolerance

A primary motivation for enacting a zero tolerance policy is to minimize unwanted behaviors. Zero tolerance policies also ensure that each individual who breaks a stated rule or law receives the same penalty. This prevents subjectivity in determining punishment for individuals.

The effectiveness of zero tolerance policies as opposed to other means of enforcing rules and punishments as consequences has been explored by many and is the topic of controversy in some groups and situations.

Those in favor believe that the policies ensure that equal treatment is given to all and that a zero tolerance policy does reduce rule-breaking or criminal activity.

Some dislike the policy because it is claimed that it discourages report of behaviors by some that witness the breaking of rules.

Others believe that there are occasions of misuse or that the punishment enforced can be out of proportion to a given incident.

Still other opponents claim that zero tolerance policies unfairly punish the “good guys” to serve as examples for others.

Now you have seen some real world examples of zero tolerance and can better form your own opinion on whether a zero tolerance policy is a good one or a bad one.

Here Are 10 Outrageous 'Zero Tolerance' Follies of 2014

Here are 10 of the most infamous "zero tolerance" punishments handed down to kids—and even some adults—this year.

Are your children safe at school? That depends on if you're worried about bullies or administrators. Here are 10 of the most infamous "zero tolerance" punishments handed down to kids—and even some adults—this year.

1. Student, 13, shares lunch, gets detention

A 13-year-old boy at Weaverville Elementary School in California shared his school lunch (a chicken burrito) with a hungry friend. For this, he got detention. Superintendent Tom Barnett explained, "Because of safety and liability we cannot allow students to actually exchange meals.”

2. Sunscreen not allowed on field trip—kids might drink it

A San Antonio, Texas, school forbid students to bring sunscreen on a field trip. Why? According to spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor, "We can’t allow toxic things to be in our schools.” The children, "could possibly have an allergic reaction (or) they could ingest it. It’s really a dangerous situation.”

3. Kindergarten cancels its year-end show to allow more time for college prep

A letter home from the Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, New York, read, in part: "The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers."

4. Teacher suspended on weapons charge for demonstrating carpentry tools

A second grade teacher at Chicago's Washington Irving Elementary School was suspended for four days without pay for bringing screwdrivers, wrenches and other shop tools to class, and demonstrating how to use them. These are dangerous items.

5. School bus driver loses job for keeping kids warm when bus breaks down

This one's in Canada! On a day when the windchill dipped to -34 Fahrenehit, school bus driver Kendra Lindon's bus broke down. Knowing it could take a long time for a replacement to arrive—and that kids would be waiting outside till it did—she picked up the few children on her route (including her son) in her SUV. A neighbor noticed two kids sitting in the cargo hold without seat belts and called the bus company. She was promptly fired.

6. 79-year-old substitute teacher fired for having student-friends on Facebook

Carol Thebarge was a substitute teacher at Stevens High School in Claremont, New Hampshire, for nine years and was friends with about 250 current students on Facebook. She was told to unfriend them or lose her job. She chose to lose her job. Superintendent Middleton McGoodwin told the press, "She’s loved by many, but that doesn’t give you allowance to ignore a protocol designed to protect all.”

7. Student suspended for slicing apple with knife during health food demonstration

Da'von Shaw, a Bedford, Ohio, high school student, brought apples and craisins to school for a "healthy eating" presentation. When he took out a knife to slice an apple, his teacher told him he was not allowed to use it. He immediately handed it over to her. Case closed? Nope. Later that day he was suspended for a week because he brought a weapon to school.

8. School goes on lockdown when mom fails to sign-in

The mother of a special needs child in Walnut Grove, Missouri, raced to school when she got a "frantic" call from her kid'steacher. After she was buzzed into the building, she ran straight to his room, thereby committing the cardinal sin of not signing in. The school went into lockdown. Cops arrived and took the mom to the police station, where she was charged with trespassing.

9. Girl in wet bathing suit forced to stand outside... in February... in Minnesota... due to school policy

After the fire alarm went off in Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, everyone evacuated, including Kayona Hagen-Tietza, 14, who had been swimming in the gym pool and didn't have time to change. School policy forbids teachers from having students in the car, so she stood outside, barefoot, for 10 minutes in 5-degree weather until a teacher obtained "permission" to let her sit in her car just this once.

10. Student suspended for twirling pencil, subjected to five-hour evaluation

Ethan Chaplin, 13, was twirling his pencil, which made the child sitting behind him feel "threatened or uncomfortable." That's all it took for the Vernon, New Jersey, school to send Chaplin for a 5-hour physical and psych evaluation. His urine was tested and blood drawn. “We never know what’s percolating in the mind of children, okay?" the superintendent, Charles Maranzano, said. "When they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.”

And a very Happy New Year to everyone who goes to school, works at a school, or is suspended from school for a sandwich swap, monkey wrench, or pencil twirl!.

Top 5 Most Horrifying Examples of “Zero Tolerance” for Students in 2013

One of the more disheartening trends we’ve seen over the past year is the rise of “zero tolerance” policy enforcement in schools. Unfortunately the world is rarely black or white – when extenuating circumstances aren’t taken into account, good kids are unreasonably punished for not technically following the letter of the rules. Here are five of the most absurd examples of zero tolerance policies at play:

1. Giving a Drunk Friend a Ride

If North Andover High School wants to discourage its students from drinking and driving, it’s going about it all wrong. After receiving a call from an intoxicated friend, teenager Erin Cox showed up at an underage party to give her friend a safe ride. While most people would commend this type of behavior, her school has decided to punish her along with the partygoers for being in the presence of alcohol.

Even the police’s confirmation that Cox was entirely sober and trying to prevent drunk driving was not enough to sway the school from suspending her for her responsible act.

2. An Oddly Shaped Breakfast

Josh Welch was enjoying a strawberry pastry at school when he decided to get creative with his eating. The 7-year-old with ADHD decided to nibble the breakfast treat into the shape of a mountain, but from his teacher’s perspective, it looked more like a gun.

Welch did not even pantomime shooting a gun, but for chewing something that could somehow be construed as violent, he received a two-day suspension from school – and perhaps even more annoying to poor Welch – he was not allowed to finish his breakfast.

3. Science Experiment Gone Wrong

Kiera Wilmot, a star student with no history of discipline, found herself in a heap of trouble after a scientific experiment she was conducting caused a minor explosion. Curiosity inspired her to mix some household ingredient, but Wilmot neither anticipated the chemical reaction nor intended to hurt anyone with her scientific inquiry.

Though even school administrators believed Wilmot to be well-intentioned, she still faced expulsion and criminal weapons charges thanks to the school’s existing zero tolerance policy.

4. Water Balloon Fight

An end of the year water balloon fight at a high school resulted in seven student arrests thanks to the school’s zero tolerance policies. Officials called the police to report the water balloon fight, and the police responded aggressively. One student mistaken for participating in the fight was slammed onto the sidewalk and subsequently hospitalized. An on-looking parent who complained about the unnecessary force was threatened with a stun gun and arrested for “trespassing” on school grounds.

Detentions seem like an appropriate punishment for a harmless water balloon, but instead the kids received disorderly conduct charges with one even getting an assault and battery charge for hitting someone with a water balloon. It’s baffling how there’s zero tolerance for “violence” like water balloons, but excessive police force seems perfectly acceptable.

5. An Empathetic Poem

After the Newton school shooting, young poet Courtni Webb wrote some private verses to try and better make sense of the tragedy. Webb’s poem was a reflection on the culture of violence perpetuated in the United States, leading to a line of empathy with the shooter: “I understand why he pulled the trigger.”

Though the poem was dark in nature, it never condoned the shooting. Nevertheless, when Webb’s teacher discovered the poem in her personal notebook, she turned it in to the administration who deemed it a “threat.” Webb was subsequently expelled under the school’s zero tolerance policy even though her writing was being willfully misinterpreted.

9 Outrageous Zero Tolerance Policy Punishments

Zero tolerance policies were put into place in an effort to reduce violence in schools. Since zero tolerance policies don't allow for any subjective review of the circumstances on a case-by-case basis, many schools have handed out ridiculous punishments for normal child behavior. Here are nine examples that have made the news over the past few years:

1. Graffiti Covered Backpack

In 2010, 14-year-old Kaleb Wilson was interrogated by a Salt Lake City gang task force. The reason Kaleb was singled out was because of the graffiti on his backpack – but, he hadn’t put it there. The graffiti was actually part of the backpack design and the student purchased it with graffiti-like imprint on the material. Despite no gang affiliation, the student was photographed by the task force holding a sign that read, “I am a gang tagger,” and was told the picture would stay on file with the gang task force.

2. Emergency Tool or Deadly Weapon?

In 2009, Matthew Whalen, a senior at Lansingburgh Senior High School in upstate New York, received a 20 day suspension for bringing a weapon on school property.

The weapon was a 2-inch pocket knife that the Eagle Scout kept in his emergency supply kit in his car. Despite the fact that he kept his car locked, and he never brought the knife into the school, he was found to be in violation of the school’s zero tolerance policy.

3. Science Experiment Gone Wrong

Kiera Wilmot had always been a good student without any record of behavior problems. But when the 16-year-old’s science experiment accidentally created a minor explosion in May of 2013, the Bartow, Florida school department took action. Not only was she suspended from school, but she also faced felony charges. Authorities later dropped the criminal charges.

4. Doodling on the Desk

Alexa Gonzalez, a 12-year-old from Forest Hills, New York, used a green marker to write the words, “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10.” When school officials discovered her scrawling, she was taken to the police station in handcuffs.

5. Plastic Soldiers Aren’t Allowed

David Morales, an 8-year-old student at Tiogue School in Rhode Island, was suspended for the toys he included in a school project. After choosing to decorate his hat in a patriotic theme – complete with plastic toy soldiers – he was sent home. School officials banned the hat, saying the plastic army figures were carrying guns, making the hat a violation of the school’s zero tolerance policy. After a media outcry, the school chose to reverse its decision and the hat is now allowed in school.

6. A Mountain of Trouble

Second grade student, Josh Welch, was suspended from school in March of 2013 when his teacher thought his pop tart appeared to be chewed into the shape of a gun. Josh later disclosed to news reporters that he was actually trying to chew his breakfast pastry into the shape of a mountain.

7. Arrested for a Food Fight

In 2009, 25 students in Chicago were arrested and charged with reckless conduct for a cafeteria food fight. The students, all between the ages of 11 and 15, were also suspended from school for two days. Since they were all juveniles, the results of their court cases were not made public.

8. Cub Scout Utensils Gone Wrong

A Delaware school department sentenced 6-year-old Zachary Christie to reform school after he took his favorite camping utensil to school. Zachary brought the utensil - which could be used as a fork, spoon, or knife – because he wanted to use it to eat his lunch and he didn’t know it would violate the school’s zero tolerance policy. The school later reversed its decision and he was allowed to return to public school.

9. Birthday Cake to Remember

A third-grade girl in Delaware was expelled after bringing a birthday cake – and the knife to cut it – to school with her. The teacher used the knife to cut the cake and then reported the student had a dangerous weapon. The expulsion was later overturned.

Zero Tolerance Policy

This was taken from suggestions in Oregon's School Policy regarding Hazing, Harassment, Intimidation, Meancing, Bullying, and Cyberbullying. This should become a major tenent of any Zero-Tolerace policy well before discipline is doled out:

  • Paying more attention to struggling students as they enter high school.
  • Screen all students regularly to spot poor attendance or grades early and get motivation, attendance and academics back on track.
  • Family counseling and student mental health.
  • Bringing weak readers up to grade level. Weekly gatherings of teams of adults to monitor warning signs are eerily similar in schools with high graduation rates.
  • Counselors, teachers and administrators plot how to help students who've missed class or assignments. Teachers ask questions, call parents and show they care. "We tell them, 'You are choosing not to do your work and choosing not to go to school, so we are going to help you.'"
  • Counselors or mentors meet with every student several times a year and push the ones who need extra time to stick with it.

When considering a Zero Tolearnace policy, hopefully the primary consideration will be the well being of all students.  

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