Common Sense Failed in Gulf Shores Drug Fight 

Common Sense Failed in Gulf Shores Drug Fight 
Posted by FoM on April 12, 2000 at 07:31:36 PT
Where is a common sense drug policy?
Source: Mobile Register
Perhaps one solution to the controversy about anti-drug discipline in Baldwin County schools would be for school officials themselves to consider ingesting a foreign substance - because it appears the officials desperately need to take a "chill pill." 
As it turns out, the school system's well-intentioned "zero tolerance" policy toward illegal drugs appears to have sometimes degenerated into practices more accurately described as "zero common sense." And the high-profile case of Jenny Hammock, the former potential valedictorian and homecoming queen at Gulf Shores High, is only one example. In one case earlier this year, for instance, a fifth-grader at Loxley Elementary was suspended for three days for giving an "inhalant" to a younger student. And what was this dreaded inhalant? A lemon-scented towelette. Several other students at Gulf Shores High, including other student leaders, have been similarly expelled because banned substances or paraphernalia were found in their cars on the school lot - even when there seemed reasonable grounds to conclude that the material was left in the car, without the students' knowledge, by passengers. As for young Ms. Hammock's case, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Butler refused her petition for a preliminary injunction that would have allowed her to return to Gulf Shores High. His decision, tightly reasoned, makes a strong case that none of her federal constitutional rights was violated by the Baldwin school system. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that "the right to attend a public school ... may be abridged so long as proper procedural protections are afforded." At the same time, however, Judge Butler twice made a point of noting that he was "not in a position to pass on the prudence of the decision to expel Hammock. Even if the discipline imposed could be construed as harsh or drastic ..." Reading between the lines, it seems as if Judge Butler was suggesting that by common sense, if not by law, the expulsion was indeed ill-advised. If so, he's right. Everybody involved in the case agrees that Ms. Hammock was not a habitual disciplinary problem. Nobody argues that she showed any sign of marijuana use at the school. When chemically tested for marijuana use, she came out clean. Judge Butler noted that, legally, the school officials have "discretion to determine which situations warrant expulsion," and that such discretion is "desirable." But discretion also required good judgment - and the problem with the "zero tolerance" policy adopted by the schools is that the officials sometimes use it as a substitute for both discretion and judgment. It's just so much easier to throw the book at kids than to waste time worrying about more difficult considerations such as context and proportionality. Make no mistake: The drug problem at schools is a serious one, and it requires serious measures. Even the use of drug-sniffing dogs on school property isn't out of line as a way to ferret out abusers. And it's right to have no tolerance for drug use or distribution on campus. But in return, the school officials have a duty to accept reasonable explanations about how the banned materials might have appeared. Trace elements in a car that's also used by other family members is not proof enough of a student's violation of school policy. In short, school officials overreacted. As a result, an apparently model student will have her academic resumž unjustly marred. Published: April 12, 2000© 2000 Mobile Register. Related Articles:Principal Warned Students Drugs Equal Explusion Challenge: Zero-Tolerance Policy is a Zero
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Comment #2 posted by MikeWWWW on April 12, 2000 at 17:26:49 PT
Zero Tolerance
A computer uses 0's very well, okay 0's and 1's in binary. But humans, a computer is just a stupid machine, could people be stupid enough to use 0's?
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on April 12, 2000 at 08:38:42 PT
"well intentioned"
As it turns out, the school system's well-intentioned "zero tolerance"policy toward illegal drugs appears to have sometimes degenerated into practices more accuratelydescribed as "zero common sense."Less than zero!The term,"degenerated",is not easily applied to the term;"zero". Here's something my Uncle,who calls himself,"The Avenger",wrote about this zero tolerance thing.Zero Tolerance.....An excellent idea! I have always had some misgivings concerning the term "zero tolerance".It just has a sort of dangerous flavor,and seems to be likely to create ripe feeding grounds for those who speak out in its favor. After much thought on the subject,I have concluded that zero tolerance is something I am completely in favor of.Zero tolerance is an excellent idea,and I will stand behind it as long as we make it apply to all. Amongst those who have instigated zero tolerance laws,we have senators,congressmen/women,state and local politicians,etc. After considering the catastophic ramifications of applying zero tolerance to all of the above,I thought I would start with just suggesting that we only apply it to the congresspeople,and senators,who have spoken out,or voted,in favor of zero tolerance laws. If my memory serves me well,(which it often doesnt),I believe that people who are elected to "serve",in congress and the senate,are required to take an "oath of office".(*) All my new;"Zero Tolerance Reform Proposal of 2000", would involve,is the requirement that random testing of these elected officials would be allowed by a randomly selected commitee of voters,to "test" the elected officials compliance with their "Oath of office". The new,"Zero Tolerance Reform Act",laws would be applied to any of these elected officials,who were found to have broken their oath of office.Perhaps we would keep them on in office,with some sort of probationary conditions and terms,providing they agreed to an "oath test",at any time. In addition to all this,of course we would have the "3 strikes law", applied to these shady characters we are trying to reform.Three negative results would require a mandatory 40 year prison term,with no chance of parole.Furthermore,the law would require them to serve the term of their sentence in a normal hardcore prison with all the murderers,rapist,and the dreaded pot smokers. Do you think any of the voting,or non-voting public would be interested in voting on something like this? Submitted for your perusal.....................Strangely and Sincerely...................The Avenger (*)I tried to find the exact "oath of office",but found it to be curiously unavailiable.Does anyone know where to find the inside info on this?.....dddd
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