Story Archive

Zero Discretion

Graham Dennis kept a pen knife in his gym bag to repair his lacrosse stick. Teammate Casey Edsall carried a lighter for the same purpose. The coaches at Easton (Md.) High School, knew about both tools, students say, but when school officials searched the boys’ gym bags on the bus as they were headed toward a game, they found the items. School officials declared the pen knife a “deadly weapon” and the lighter an “explosive device.” Per the district’s “zero tolerance” policy, the boys were suspended — Dennis for 10 days, and Edsall for one. School officials also called police, and Dennis, 17, was taken away in handcuffs to face weapons charges; he could get up to three years in prison. Fifty parents showed up at a school board meeting to protest the suspensions “because these kids didn’t do anything wrong,” one said, but the board refused to allow them to speak. Parents demand school administrators use discretion rather than slapping every student with the worst-case penalty — that’s what they’re paid to do, said Laura Dennis, Graham’s mother. Nope, says Lynne Duncan, Talbot County supervisor of student services. “Our policy doesn’t allow for it.” (RC/Baltimore Sun) ...So “Zero Thinking” isn’t just my snarky comment about ZT, it’s official school policy!
Original Publication Date: 15 May 2011
This story is in True’s book collections, in Volume 17.

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