Finally, someone is doing something about the absurd notion of “zero tolerance” in school law. State Senator Emanuel Jones has introduced a bill to ban the mandatory, knee-jerk reaction to minor school offenses.
These are the offenses under which Georgia students have been jailed or suspended for wearing a studded belt, bringing a French teacher a bottle of wine, possessing a Princess Swiss Army knife and the famous possession of a Tweety Bird wallet with a chain.
The law would prevent standing court orders that mandate that a juvenile be arrested or jailed without a hearing, ban the charging of a student as a felon unless a weapon was used in an assault or was a gun, and give judges more discretion on how they handle cases.
Zero tolerance is a one-size-fits-all approach that seldom works. It ties the hands of school officials, police, district attorneys and judges so that a child's innocent oversight is punished as rigorously as a premeditated crime.
The legislature should approve Jones’ bill and return a bit of sanity to school security.