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Education Reporter

'Zero Tolerance' Follies Continue Unabated 
A stick figure drawing of a soldier attacking an enemy, a fictional account of a dream, a loan of an asthma inhaler, a set of violent cartoons, and a Korean pencil sharpener all led to severe sanctions for teenage students in October and November under school "zero-tolerance" policies against violence or drugs.

Scott Switzer, 14, of Colts Neck, NJ was suspended for five days from Tinton Falls Middle School for drawing a stick figure of a U.S. Marine shooting at a Taliban fighter. The boy, whose father and stepfather are in the military, described his picture as "patriotic" and "a war scene." (nypost.com, 11-29-03)

In Montgomery County, TX, Brandon Kivi, 15, let his girlfriend use his inhaler when she forgot to bring her medication to school. The girl had trouble breathing and went to the nurse's office, which lacked asthma remedies. After the boy loaned the girl his inhaler to alleviate her distress, the school nurse reported him to the campus police for violating the district's zero-tolerance drug policy. He was arrested, accused of delivering a dangerous drug, and suspended from school for three days. He could face expulsion and juvenile detention. The teens both used the same type of asthma medicine, Albuterol. (Click2Houston.com, 10-8-03)

In Winona, MN, the school board has refused to make an exception from its zero-tolerance policy to allow middle school students to bring their own unloaded shotguns to school for a state-sponsored Saturday-morning gun-safety course. "It's like teaching a math class without a calculator," said Scott Sabotta, the course instructor. (startribune.com, 10-20-03)

Younger children also got in trouble for bringing a picture of a machete to school and for waving a toy gun.

A small boy brought a picture of a machete to school to fulfill an assignment to find something starting with the letter "M", and was sternly reprimanded by his teacher. According to a column by his grandfather, Roger Aylworth, the child was sent home with a message that the school does not allow weapons of any kind. (Chicago Enterprise-Record, 11-2-03)

A middle-school principal in Worthington, OH has recommended expulsion of a seventh grader for drawing violent cartoons. A teacher found the drawings of stick figures being shot, stabbed or blown up in a hand-drawn comic book at Perry Middle School. Under the district's zero-tolerance policy, it doesn't matter whether the 12-year-old meant to harm anyone, a spokesman said. Police decided not to file charges. (cleveland.com, 11-7-03)

Sumi and Alan Lough have sued the Katy, TX school district for punishing their 13-year-old daughter for using a traditional Korean pencil sharpener. The mother had bought the two-inch folding blade for her daughter's use while visiting her native South Korea. School officials removed the straight-A student as president of the student council and honor society and ordered her to attend a special disciplinary class for seven days, stating that they had no choice but to follow their zero-tolerance policy to the letter. (HoustonChronicle.com, 10-22-03)

Rachel Boim, 14, was expelled from Roswell High School near Atlanta for writing a fictional account of a student who falls asleep in class and dreams of killing a teacher. She wrote the story in her personal journal and showed it to a classmate. A teacher noticed, confiscated the story, and turned it over to officials of the school, which has a zero-tolerance policy. Instead of calling her parents to discuss the situation, the school had an armed guard escort the girl out of her classroom. (CNN.com, 10-31-03)

In a non-school incident, a 9-year-old boy was arrested at gunpoint and handcuffed for waving a toy gun over his head while sitting on a bench outside a store in the Cleveland, Ohio area. (morningjournal.com, 10-28-03)

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