We have been discussing the steady stream of absurd actions taken by school officials under “zero tolerance” policies. For a prior column, click here. The Philadelphia school district is adding its name to this ignoble list after standing by the decision to not only scold but to search a 5th grade student after Melody Valentin was found in possession of a paper gun.
The district is actually commending the actions of officials in searching Valentin, saying that she told classmates that she had a handgun. The family and girl deny she ever said that she had a handgun. Instead, she said that she realized that she had the cutout gun and put it on the desk. Her grandfather had given it to her the previous day. It was a classmate who saw the paper cutout and told a teacher.
The paper gun above does not exactly create a reasonable suspicion that a fully loaded block is concealed in the girl’s backpack. However, she is fortunate not to have been suspended or expelled. Even a finger gun is enough of an arsenal to lead to such discipline judging from past cases.