Florida legislators wrapped up their 2014 session
a bill that revises school discipline guidelines in the wake of
the now-infamous incident in which a
7-year-old boy was suspended for chewing his breakfast pastry into
the shape of a gun and other zero tolerance
calling it “the Pop-Tart bill” and it’s rather
Maryland, where the original pastry pistol incident took place,
passed a similar bill last year.
But the boy at the center of that controversy is still caught in
the zero tolerance web. The
Washington Post reports that school officials in that
case are saying the suspension was really about general
disciplinary problems, despite the fact that the brief citation
includes the word gun four times and the parents say
administrators made no mention of other concerns at the time of the
For more than a year, the Anne Arundel boy’s family has been asking
school officials to clear the episode from his boy’s
records, saying that it unfairly tarnishes his file with a
At Tuesday’s hearing, school officials said the boy also had
nibbled his pastry into a gun shape a day earlier. But his teacher,
Jessica Fultz, testified that on that day he was more compliant
when admonished. On the day he was suspended, she said, he was not
responsive when she told him to stop.
Which highlights the irony at the heart of zero tolerance
policies. Far from being inflexible across-the-board rules, they
tend to be enforced selectively and often for reasons beyond what
is contained in the letter of the law.
Both the Florida and Maryland bills contain language that
protects teachers’ and administrators’ right to discipline kids who
are actually being disruptive or dangerous. Because duh.
The Maryland school administrators would also like to
clarify another point:
Laurie Pritchard, Anne Arundel’s director of legal services,
said that the object central to the case had been misportrayed, as
well as the reason for the discipline.
“First of all, it wasn’t a Pop-Tart,” she said. “It was a
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