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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Is zero tolerance too strict for Florida schools?



images.jpegThe story of Samuel Burgos, a Broward County boy expelled from school for bringing a toy gun in his backpack, has made the national circuit in recent days as his family has tried to overturn his punishment.

His specific case — the boy carried a clear plastic pistol and made no threats — has prompted the Miami Herald to ask the question, Does the penalty fit the crime?  

Broward superintendent Jim Notter told the Herald that the weapons issues his district has coped with justifies the vigilance. "You are talking to the superintendent who was in charge when Teah Wimberly shot Amanda Collette," Notter said. "I lost two students that day. There is no room for leeway."

Broward School Board member Robin Bartleman had some doubts, though: "We need to take a look and see if there is a way we can take into consideration the age of the student and what he or she actually did," Bartleman told the Herald.

Florida lawmakers gave school districts some flexibility on zero tolerance a year ago, with the goal of limiting unintended consequences — the law probably would cover Samuel's situation. How do you think schools should handle fake weapons and the like?

(Illustration from Popular Mechanics)

[Last modified: Thursday, October 21, 2010 9:49am]


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