Zero Tolerance For Common Sense?

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Zero tolerance.

Sounds good. Tough. Clear.

Zero common sense.

Not so good.

The Payson School Board had an interesting debate this week on the subject of the weapons ban on the Payson High School Campus. High school principal Brian Mabb has a no-nonsense, zero tolerance policy: Bring a weapon to school, he’ll call the cops — maybe slap on a nice felony and a suspension to teach you a lesson.

Sounds righteous: Protect our kids.

Oh, well, gee, said a couple of school board members.

How about a nail file with a little blade left by mistake in your backpack?

How about a plastic knife from the school cafeteria?

How about a kid who spent the weekend hunting with his dad and left his pocket knife in his, well, pocket?

Good questions, one and all.

Here’s the deal: The rules exist to protect the kids and promote learning. They don’t have their own weight and purpose. They must serve the students.

So, certainly, making it absolutely clear to kids that they cannot bring weapons of any sort onto campus — great goal. And maybe sometimes you have to make an example of some knucklehead to get the word out.

But at some point — common sense has got to come into play. It makes no sense at all to ruin some kid’s life with a police report and a felony and a suspension because he put a plastic cafeteria knife in his lunch sack or forgot and left his fishing knife in the trunk of his car. Intention does matter — and so do the consequences. Good kids make dumb mistakes — even careless ones. Don’t wreck a kid’s life for the sake of the rule — when the purpose of the rule is to protect that self-same kid.

Of course, the district continues to operate in the deep shadow of state rules and regulations — which often lack even a whiff of common sense.

Still, we’re glad the school board’s paying attention — and asking good questions.

We hope the administration’s listening.

Comments

Donald Cline 4 months, 2 weeks ago

Excellent observation. I would add that there are other words to describe Principal Mabb's Zero Tolerance policy: Words like Autocratic. Authoritarian. Absolutist. Domineering. Fascist.

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