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Saturday, September 23, 2017

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This Jello is Shot


In Terrytown, Louisana, outside New Orleans, an 8 year old girl was suspended for nine days for bringing 30 items that looked like jello shots (an alcoholic gelatin drink) to school to sell to raise money for Christmas.  The shots were seized and tested for alcohol.  There was no alcohol, so the girl violated no law.  However, the school said prior to the release of the test results that the suspension would stand, no matter what, because the girl violated a policy against "lookalike" items that resemble drugs or alcohol.


"To viciously whack a child in this situation is arbitrary and carpicious, even where one draws all inferences in the schoolís favor."


To me, this incident is ridiculous.  If there was alcohol in the shots, then the school would be well-justified in suspending the child, and bringing criminal charges against her mother.  What the girl had, in essence, were small portions of Jello.  She was not trying to distribute pills that resemble unlawful drugs or cigarette papers rolled up with Oregano inside.  There is no indication that she represented to anyone that alcohol was present.  To viciously whack a child in this situation is arbitrary and carpicious, even where one draws all inferences in the schoolís favor.

The proliferation of "zero tolerance" policies has troubled me for a long time.  A menstruating high school girl gets an extended suspension for carrying Midol for her own use in her purse.  Zero Tolerance school "policies" are neither disclosed in advance nor defined clearly.  How on Earth are parents or children supposed to know what is and is not allowed?

Schools are rightly afraid of liability suits (one will certainly issue in this case).  They also, for the most part, genuinely care for the safety of their kids.  However, they overreact with many of these policies.  Zero Tolerance needs to be restricted to situations of actual violence or lawlessness.