Zero Tolerance

Pop-Tart Guns Now Legal in Florida Schools


poptart pistol
Original art by KMW

Florida legislators wrapped up their 2014 session by passing a bill that revises school discipline guidelines in the wake of the now-infamous incident in which a 7-year-old boy was suspended for chewing his breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun and other zero tolerance snafus.

They're calling it "the Pop-Tart bill" and it's rather specific:

pop-tart bill

pop-tart bill

Maryland, where the original pastry pistol incident took place, passed a similar bill last year.

But the boy at the center of that controversy is still caught in the zero tolerance web. The Washington Post reports that school officials in that case are saying the suspension was really about general disciplinary problems, despite the fact that the brief citation includes the word gun four times and the parents say administrators made no mention of other concerns at the time of the suspension:

For more than a year, the Anne Arundel boy's family has been asking school officials to clear the episode from his boy's records, saying that it unfairly tarnishes his file with a gun-related offense….

At Tuesday's hearing, school officials said the boy also had nibbled his pastry into a gun shape a day earlier. But his teacher, Jessica Fultz, testified that on that day he was more compliant when admonished. On the day he was suspended, she said, he was not responsive when she told him to stop.

Which highlights the irony at the heart of zero tolerance policies. Far from being inflexible across-the-board rules, they tend to be enforced selectively and often for reasons beyond what is contained in the letter of the law. 

Both the Florida and Maryland bills contain language that protects teachers' and administrators' right to discipline kids who are actually being disruptive or dangerous. Because duh. 

The Maryland school administrators would also like to clarify another point: 

Laurie Pritchard, Anne Arundel's director of legal services, said that the object central to the case had been misportrayed, as well as the reason for the discipline.

"First of all, it wasn't a Pop-Tart," she said. "It was a breakfast pastry." 

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  1. “First of all, it wasn’t a Pop-Tart,” she said. “It was a breakfast pastry.”

    Oh, well, that makes all the difference. Carry on, then.

    1. Kellogg would pony up the produce placement dough.

      1. Geez, that’s what I get for commenting from a smartphone.

        Kellogg wouldn’t pony up the product placement dough.

    2. The desperate straw-clutching to save face is delicious.

      1. Maybe she was being sarcastic?

        “Everyone knows I have no defense here, so I’ll offer something absurd instead.”

    3. This reminds me of the claim that Kool-Aid was not the drink of choice at Jonestown. It was apparently mostly Flavor Aid.

      1. I’m pretty sure that was true. I can see why Kool-Aid would object. That’s really not good for their brand image.

  2. “First of all, it wasn’t a Pop-Tart,” she said. “It was a breakfast pastry.”

    Whatever. STFU, Pritchard.

  3. “It was a breakfast pastry” pop tart loophole!

    1. Just wait until a .40 Bearclaw from the local donut place is pointed at you, mister!

      /school admin PR flak

      1. Swiss Servator, CH yeah!|5.9.14 @ 1:53PM|#
        “Just wait until a .40 Bearclaw from the local donut place is pointed at you, mister!”

        Just so long as the magazine doesn’t have more than 9 trans-fats, it’s legal.

        1. Nobody needs more than 9 trans fats.

    2. In all fairness, I believe that Pop-Tart is a trademark. But Pritchard is still a loathsome POS.

      1. Yes. And yes.

  4. Far from being inflexible across-the-board rules, they tend to be enforced selectively and often for reasons beyond what is contained in the letter of the law.

    Perfect, isn’t it? Enforce however you like, but when a student pisses you off and isn’t “compliant” enough, you can bring the hammer down and point to “zero tolerance” policies as why. It gives them the best of both worlds: discretion to use at their whim, and then an excuse for why they went overboard when they want to.

    Public school teachers: the cops of the child world.

    1. PRINCIPAL MOSS: According to the school board’s zero-tolerance policy, anything that can be used as a weapon is a weapon.

      HANK: Well, that’s just asinine!

      PRINCIPAL MOSS: Hey, my hands are tied. If I showed even a little bit of tolerance, we couldn’t call it zero-tolerance.

    2. Public school teachersadministrators: the cops of the child world.

      Teachers can’t expel/suspend/strip search you.

      1. But they’re all too happy to make sure that you are. Don’t try to defend these people.


      2. All they have to do is tell an administrator to do so and it’s done. Why are you splitting hairs?

        1. I didn’t kill all those Jews, I just told the Gestapo where they were hiding. I’m blameless!

          1. Ah, the Soros gambit.

        2. Teachers are the cops and administrators are the rubber stamp judges.

          1. Yep. As I said below, just like traffic court.

  5. At least Fla legislators give poor students an exit option for these silly schools.

    But what does it say that the government schools are the kinds of places whose administrators have to be explicitly *told* not to punish boys for having toy guns, pointing their fingers and saying “bang,” or shaping pastries into gun shapes?

  6. So his offense was Failure to Comply. This is my surprised face.

    1. So the FL teachers won’t bust him on gun charges, it will be some other bullshit.

      1. You can bet they still have a zero-tolerance policy for bullying. And why have a pop-tar gun unless it’s to impose your will on unsuspecting breakfasters?

        1. Defending yourself against the other guy who thinks he’s GI Joe with a pop-tart gun?

          1. Ah, the old, “I only chewed my pop-tart into the shape of a gun for self defense” defense.

            1. Do you have an open carry permit for that pop-tart (oh I’m sorry, pastry)?

    2. I got one detention in High School. It was for insubordination. The insubordination? Disputing the reason I was sent to the office. For which the other 3 guys received detention. Might as well have been traffic court.

      If I hadnt been well on the path to libertarianism already, that might have sealed the deal.

  7. It has come to this… we now need laws to enforce common sense and let kids play without fear.

  8. Failure to comply obey. Better learn it now. Do that to a cop as an adult and you may wind up dead.

  9. Breaking: France upsets Canada at world hockey championship

    1. Did they make fun of your accents?

    2. Huh? How is that even possible? Do the French use players from Quebec or something? Russians? What?

      1. People play hockey in countries other than the US, Canada, Russia, and Finland, ProL.

        1. Sweden and Norway, sure.

        2. Yes, but not in France. I mean, come on.

  10. Let Freedom Ring!

  11. And that bill, of course, has nothing to do with A-1, does it?

    1. Why? Are kids pretending that bottles of steak sauce are guns too?

      1. In the UK, A-1 is banned, and you have to have a license for HP Sauce.

  12. So now, we need new laws to make poptarts bitten into the shape of a gun, to be legal? Is everyone here still sure that we have NOT reached peak derp?

    We need a new form of zero tolerance. Zero tolerance of shithead politicians and bureaucrats.

  13. I thought Pop Tarts were hookers that jumped out of cakes.

  14. How about we pass a law that says you have to have an iq over 100 to work at a school.

    1. Did you know many education majors in college? Many of them I knew were more sweet than smart.

      1. Quoting PJ O’Rourke badly: “You cant understand what is wrong with the American education system until you have fucked an ElEd major.”

        1. So true! Ex-fiance was a first grade teacher and a good first grade teacher too. Despite being certified through 5th grade, I am ever so please she wanted to only teach first grade. There is no way she understood third grade math, let alone able to teach it.

          Best piece I ever had, too bad she dumped me when I had to take my grand-kid in. Sigh!

      2. Education majors aren’t teachers, though.

      3. Schools of Education are where you end up when you’re unable to matriculate a real major. Schools of Journalism are where you go when you can’t hack a School of Education.

  15. How about a law that says no disciplinary action can be taken for bringing a weapon to school unless its an actual, you know, weapon?

    The fact that the blithering idiots are actually carving out a narrow loophole for breakfast pastries and finger guns just proves that I don’t have enough ammo, because we are obviously “governed” by morons who command armies of goons.

    1. But RC, how will we protect the special snowflakes from pocket knives and other hand-tools that might be misused?

    2. I’m still waiting for an overeducated education major to suspend a student for paying for his milk with a Massachusetts quarter.

  16. Gives new meaning to the term “bite the bullet,” lol

  17. I guess the little boy who was throwing simulated grenades and yelling boom is still out of luck.

  18. How about we have zero tolerance for zero tolerance?

  19. Which highlights the irony at the heart of zero tolerance policies. Far from being inflexible across-the-board rules, they tend to be enforced selectively and often for reasons beyond what is contained in the letter of the law.

    From authority’s point of view, this is a feature, not a bug.

    As you really gain no control from equally and consistently enforcing laws/standards – true control only comes when you can enforce laws/standards against those who “deserve” it while allowing the “good” ones more leeway.

    Same reason why they want to score math tests based upon creative answers (even if wrong) – as this allows them to rank their students in the order they just know they should be. They feel it so strongly – in their eyes, any ranking they made which disagreed with actual grades, would be further proof that “grades aren’t important” because their ranking is the “real” rankings.

  20. How about a law saying that students can not be disciplined unless they violate a rule that is precisely written to precisely specify what conduct is proscribed?

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