We previously discussed the bizarre case of Nathan Entingh, 10, who was suspended for merely pointing his finger at another student and saying “pow.” It was discussed nationally as an insane example of abuses under the zero tolerance policies of teachers and administrators. Just to show that neither logic nor judgment will be allowed to influence their use of authority, the school district has upheld that punishment and affirmed this type of institutionalized lunacy.
We have previously followed the suspensions and discipline of students under zero tolerance policies that are used by teachers to justify zero judgment or responsibility. I have long criticized zero tolerance policies that have led to suspensions and arrests of children (here, here and here and here and here). Here is a prior column on the subject (and here).Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or even having Danish in the shape of a gun. Despite the public outcry over the completely irrational and abusive application of zero tolerance rules, administrators and teachers continue to apply them blindly. If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never been blamed for any failure. Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversals, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.
Of course, in this case, the administrators were upheld and other teachers shown that this is precisely what the school district wants to happen to students.
The District seems oblivious to both the outcry and the absurdity of its actions. Consider the statute of Spokesman Jeff Warner that a finger gun is “look-alike firearm” that must be kept out of school. The finger guns was the previously classified as a “level 2 look alike firearm.” I am not sure what concerns me more: the lack of any sign of intelligence or the penchant for authoritarian abuse in such school officials. Let’s just call it “level 3 insanity” and leave it there.
During the hearing, the hearing officer reportedly offered to revise the offense to be called a “volatile act” instead of the hand “gun” charge. The parents refused to agree to the effective plea for their child. It is particularly bothersome to see administrators dress up these ludicrous proceedings as quasi-legal events like “hearings.” There appears virtually no defense that can be brought since the policy itself is absurd but the policy is not being questioned. That is quite a lesson for future citizens in how to live under arbitrary and capricious authority. It may make for a dangerously docile citizenry but it makes for wonderfully quiet classroom.