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Back to March Ed Reporter
Education Reporter
NUMBER 182 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS MARCH 2001

1st Grader Runs Afowl of 'Zero Tolerance'
JONESBORO, AR - When eight-year-old Christopher Kissinger pointed a chicken strip at another student in the cafeteria of the South Elementary School while saying "pow, pow, pow," a nearby teacher thought the "threat" was meant for her. Christopher was serving a detention for talking when the incident occurred, and he received an added punishment of three-days' suspension from school.

Principal Dan Sullivan told the Jonesboro Sun (2-1-01) that punishment for threats "depends on the tone, the demeanor, and in some manner you judge the intent. It's not the object in the hand, it's the thought in the mind. . . . " He added that zero tolerance policies are in place because "people want them."

Christopher's mother, Kelli Kissinger, called the chicken finger incident "harmless" and expressed outrage at the punishment.

Many parents fear that their children's minds are being invaded and their thoughts judged impulsively by teachers and school officials in the name of school safety. A variety of violence prevention techniques, including checklists of characteristics and assessments for "profiling" potentially violent students, have been introduced in U.S. schools, most of which are believed to violate students' civil rights.

Jonesboro was the site of a 1998 school-yard shooting.


 
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