A panel of Colorado lawmakers and law enforcement officials that was tasked with re-evaluating school discipline in the state has determined that policies adopted after the Columbine High School shootings should be scaled back or scrapped, and that administrators should have more control over student punishment.
State laws have tied the hands of school administrators with zero-tolerance policy standards, members of the panel said. In turn, the officials are left with no choice but to refer a high number of students to law enforcement for minor offenses, they said.
The panel will meet later this month to develop recommendations for the legislature. In previous meetings, the panel has heard stories of a student being suspended for bringing a wooden replica of a rifle to school, and of another facing criminal charges for accidentally hitting a teacher with a beanbag chair. During the past decade, about 100,000 students in Colorado have been referred to police, according to lawmakers.
State lawmakers say some of those policies were a result of the heightened alert and fear created by school violence, such as the 1999 shootings at Columbine High that left 13 people and two teenage gunmen dead.
A version of this article appeared in the September 21, 2011 edition of Education Week as Post-Columbine Safety Rules Too Strict, Colo. Panel Says