Location: Texas, United States

I am a teacher with 33 years experience in public education. The purpose of this web log is to critically examine the present state of education in our great country and, particularly, in Texas.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

zero tolerance for zero tolerance

Last Thursday evening I was honored to speak to the good folks at The meeting at which I spoke was attended by Dora Olivio, a member of the Texas House who is very helpful in zero tolerance cases. I had a wonderful talk with Representative Olivio early in the meeting. I will be most happy to help her with any of her education concerns. I then spoke about my concerns about zero tolerance issues and the story of a student who was involved in an inapprpriate search at my school last year. I will also speak at the Texas Summit on Disciplinary Actions in Austin on January 28, 2005.

Coming up on the calendar is consideration of SB 126 of John Lindsay. The bill "does not require a student code of conduct to specify a minimum term of removal under Sec 37.006 or an expulsion under Section 37.007. The other wonderful part of this bill is the mandated consideration of Culpable Mental State Required. "A school district may not punish a student under this subchapter based on conduct that contains the elements of an offense under the Penal Code unless the principal, board of trustees, or other person authorized under Secton 37.009 to review the student's culpable mental state required for that offense under the Penal Code".

This would require that a student would have to have a mental state or intent that would cause them to use and item as weapon. So a child makes a mistake and brings a boy scout knife to school he will not recieve expulsion, a ticket, a court date, a juvenile record, a long assignment in a DAEP, and other punishments. This is a major leap forward. Had this been in effect last year, my student who brought an object to school by mistake would not have expelled, ticketed, had a court date, a juvenile record, and a 45 day assignment to our lousy DAEP class where he was strip searched on the first day.

An example of why I feel so strongly about this issue is illustrated by this story. I urge you to read the stories that can be found here for a taste of what is now happening in many schools.

I am asking those of you who are residents of this state to get behind SB 126. Call your legislator in Austin to let them know you like it and want it supported.



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