To the Editor:
I believe Gara LaMarche brings up a valid point with regard to the necessity of reviewing current discipline models utilized at various schools and levels of education in the United States (“The Time Is Right to End ‘Zero Tolerance,’” April 6, 2011). Unfortunately, his premise for abolishment is fatally flawed. As a current principal in a small K-8 urban school and most recently an assistant principal in a very rural high school, I have been the one imposing this policy. I believe to globally remove it would do a serious injustice to the safety and security inside our educational settings.
My exposure to the zero-tolerance policy has been limited to weapons, drugs, and extreme violence in our schools. I believe that part of the policy should remain in force. I agree with Mr. LaMarche that the examples he cited were possibly extreme, but as we know there is more background to each situation. In the spirit of revision, we could easily set benchmark standards for when to apply a zero-tolerance policy in full force and when to apply a reduced standard.
Scott E. Van Vooren
Graystone Academy Charter School
A version of this article appeared in the April 20, 2011 edition of Education Week as Review, Don’t End, Zero-Tolerance Rules