Zero Tolerance

Zero Tolerance Teaches Students Important Lessons About Authority: Don't Share Information, Don't Consent to Searches

Suspended for honest mistakes and good faith efforts


beer, fishing knife, suspended, suspended
news screencaps

"It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission," the popular saying goes. One school in Texas has taught a student a different lesson: better to keep quiet and hope no one notices than to apologize for a mistake. What happened, via WLS:

Christi Seale says her 17-year-old son Chaz accidentally confused a beer can for a soda can and packed it in his lunch.

"He was in a hurry, running late. We were talking about school and he put it all together and took off for school," she said.

When he realized his mistake at school, Chaz gave the unopened beer to his teacher. But that teacher then reported it to the principal at Livingston High School, who suspended the boy for three days and then sent him to an alternative school for two months.

Chaz said, "I gave it to the teacher thinking I wouldn't get in trouble, and I got in trouble."

That kind of tone deaf, zero tolerance informed move isn't going to discourage students from underage drinking, it's going to discourage them from alerting school officials to inadvertent infractions of school policy.

Meanwhile, a student in Tennessee learned never to consent to a search, even when you don't think you have anything to hide. Via News Channel 5:

On Thursday, Duren-Sanner, a senior at Northeast High School drove his father's car to school. During a random lockdown, his car was chosen to be searched.

Duren-Sanner gave permission because he said he had nothing to hide.

His father is a commercial fisherman on the West Coast and had apparently left a fishing knife in the car. Duren-Sanner's father said it might have been wedged between one of the seats.

Duren-Sanner said he told school officials and the Sheriff's department the car was his father's and he didn't know the knife was in it.

"He's like 'it doesn't matter it was in your possession anyway,'" Duren-Sanner said.

School officials suspended him for 10 days, the maximum allowed under school policy, and then he was reprimanded to attend 90 days at an alternative school.

He's probably learned his lesson, not about the dangers of fishing knives, but about the dangers of consenting to a search. The beer can and the fishing knife cost the two students a combined 13 days of suspension and five months at "alternative" schools. Administrators at both schools insist procedures were followed, and what are they getting paid the big bucks for if not to defer to the rule book and deny access to their schools to students who've inadvertently run afoul of those rules, even when they haven't hurt anyone. Whether they like it or not, they've taught the students, and any classmates paying attention, a valuable lesson on authority and how stupid and dangerous it can be.