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Back to October Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 261 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS OCTOBER 2007

Zero Tolerance for Doodles of Weapons

In the space of two weeks, two Arizona 8th-graders in different districts were suspended for drawing pictures of guns. Payne Junior High in Chandler issued a five-day suspension, later commuted to three days, to a student who sketched a gun on a homework assignment. Although it was only a doodle of a laser gun and depicted no violence or human targets, school officials said the drawing "was absolutely considered a threat" under the district's zero-tolerance policy. (East Valley/Scottsdale Tribune, 8-21-07)

The following week, a student at Walker Butte K-8 School in Florence drew a cartoon on several index cards of a stick figure holding a gun. This 8th-grader also received a three-day suspension. A spokesman from the Florence Unified School District explained that the punishment fit the crime "because it is the intent of the district to provide a safe environment in which to learn." (Arizona Daily Star, 8-31-07)

Both sets of parents objected to the suspensions, saying the schools were overreacting. "I just can't believe that there wasn't another way to resolve this," said the Payne student's mother. In Chandler, there is no way for parents to appeal any punishment less severe than a ten-day suspension.


 
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