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Speaking of silly

Published 10:05pm Tuesday, February 26, 2013

In a nation where there are regular reports of kindergarteners being tossed out of school for simply drawing pictures of handguns or rifles, it’s clear that “zero-tolerance” has sailed beyond reasonable limits and into the sort of fantastical application that could only result from government employees fanatically enforcing government policy.

That the silliness had reached Suffolk became clear on Friday, when a fifth-grader was interrogated by police and recommended for expulsion for bringing marijuana to school.

Clearly the school system has a legitimate reason for policies calling for harsh punishment of students who use drugs, sell them or bring them to school to show their friends. Teens today have many simple ways to get drugs and alcohol, and many of them do so. The school system has an obvious duty not to allow the halls of education to become open-air drug markets, and acting quickly and decisively against those who bring illegal substances onto school property goes a long way toward removing any temptation for other students to do so.

Still, Friday’s incident seems like the kind of situation that cries out for a moderating influence to balance the harsh requirements of zero tolerance. Officials say the youngster allegedly had brought the pot to school to show his teacher in a sort of fifth-grade version of an intervention.

“When asked about the marijuana in the presence of the student’s mother, he advised the officer that he found it in his father’s truck and brought it to school to show his teacher, because he wanted his father to stop smoking marijuana,” Suffolk spokesperson Diana Klink wrote in an email.

Students are told all the time that they should trust their teachers. Yet right after this student did so, he found himself in a room with his mother and a police officer, defending himself in the midst of a terrifying situation.

One wonders if Suffolk’s inflexible policy would similarly result in the recommendation for expulsion of a student who found a bag of marijuana in the school hallway and then tried to turn it in.

Speaking of silly….

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