Do Zero Tolerance Policies Lack Flexibility

JL - posted on 02/21/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )




Queens girl Alexa Gonzalez hauled out of school in handcuffs after getting caught doodling on desk

BY Rachel Monahan


Thursday, February 4th 2010, 11:57 PM

Alexa Gonzalez was scribbling a few words on her desk Monday while waiting for her Spanish teacher to pass out homework at Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills, she said.

"I love my friends Abby and Faith," the girl wrote, adding the phrases "Lex was here. 2/1/10" and a smiley face.

But instead of simply cleaning off the doodles after class, Alexa landed in some adult-sized trouble for using her lime-green magic marker.

She was led out of school in cuffs and walked to the precinct across the street, where she was detained for several hours, she and her mother said.

"I started crying, like, a lot," said Alexa. "I made two little doodles. ... It could be easily erased. To put handcuffs on me is unnecessary." Alexa, who had a stellar attendance record, hasn't been back to school since, adding, "I just thought I'd get a detention. I thought maybe I would have to clean [the desk]."

"She's been throwing up," said her mom, Moraima Camacho, 49, an accountant, who lives with her daughter in Kew Gardens. "The whole situation has been a nightmare."

City officials acknowledged Alexa's arrest was a mistake.

"We're looking at the facts," said City Education Department spokesman David Cantor. "Based on what we've seen so far, this shouldn't have happened."

"Even when we're asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail, and discretion used in deciding whether an arrest or handcuffs are really necessary," said police spokesman Paul Browne.

Alexa is the latest in a string of city students who have been cuffed for minor infractions. In 2007, 13-year-old Chelsea Fraser was placed under arrest for writing "okay" on her desk at Intermediate School 201. And in 2008, 5-year-old Dennis Rivera was cuffed and sent to a psych ward after throwing a fit in his kindergarten.

A class action lawsuit was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union last month against the city for using "excessive force" in middle school and high schools. A 12-year-old sixth-grader, identified in the lawsuit as M.M., was arrested in March 2009 for doodling on her desk at the Hunts Point School.

Alexa is still suspended from her school, her mother said. She and her mom went to family court on Tuesday, where Alexa was assigned eight hours of community service, a book report and an essay on what she learned from the experience.

"I definitely learned not to ever draw on a desk," said Alexa. "They told me with a pencil this could still happen."

So what do you ladies think have the zero tolerance policies gone too far, do they lack flexibiity.

When looking at this case and others I say...HELL YES.

We have had 37 pound Kindergartners put in handcuffs and taken to psych facilities for pitching fits ...

First graders arrested and charged with Sexual Harrassement for kisses on the cheek, hugs, and slaps on the butt at the playground......

Where is the common sense and WTF is this exactly accomplishing treating kids like convicts for such minor things.


View replies by

[deleted account]

Does this seem horribly rediculous, YES! But the last time I checked, zero tolerance was just that ZERO tolerance, not zero tolerance except in such and such situation...this is a great example of many injustices in our justice system...I think if the punishments are going to be so horribly rediculous all the students should have a CLEAR understanding of the ramifications of their actions! Sounds like they need an assembly to go over the manual!

[deleted account]

Crazy. The kids are going to get the impression that their teachers and school can't handle them and need to call the cops. That's a great way to lose control of the students. These things need to be handled by the teacher. If the behavior is continuously repeated or if it is something the teacher cannot handle alone while managing the rest of the class, the school's principal should be called to step in. Cops should be called for acts of violence.

[deleted account]

Waaay too far. Zero tolerance policies are ridiculous. They ask for black and white, yes and no calls in a world full of gray areas.

Adrienne - posted on 02/21/2010




When asked to write a report about what she had learned, I would have written a report about the failings in the no tolerance policy and our school systems at large...

Lindsay - posted on 02/21/2010




I absolutely think zero tolerance policies have gone too far. There are way too many people that seemed to have been absent the day they passed out common sense. A punishment should fit the crime, period. This should not have happened....

Amie - posted on 02/21/2010




o_O WTF?!

This is ridiculous. I'm really glad my kids go to school here. /:) They have programs to help kids who have problems with pitching fits, and no they are not admitted into a psych ward for it. Kids kiss each other on the cheek all the time, teachers have the common sense to remind them of the rules not call the cops and press charges!! OMG!

As for writing on a desk, ha. They have to clean it off. Not sure how the high school's handle it now but I know when I was in HS all we had to do was clean off the desk(and every other one in the classroom too). We weren't suspended or got a detention on our records. This is beyond stupid.

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