Another victory against ‘Zero Tolerance’ idiocy

Steve Watson
January 20, 2014

A suspension handed to a 10-year-old child from a Pennsylvania school for miming the action of firing an arrow from an imaginary bow has been rescinded following protests headed by a civil liberties group.

The Rutherford Institute, a watchdog group, intervened last month in the case of Johnny Jones, a fifth grader at South Eastern Middle School in Fawn Grove, Pa., who found himself in trouble after “violating” the school’s zero tolerance policy on weapons by miming the action using only his hands.

According to school officials, Jones was in class when a classmate held up his folder like an imaginary gun and “shot” at him while he was retrieving a pencil from the teacher. When Jones drew back the strings of an imaginary bow and “shot” back, a girl in the class alerted the teacher, and one thing led to another.

The school principal suspended Jones, contacted the boy’s parents, and threatened expulsion for “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm”.

Following a face-to-face meeting with Jones’ mother, arranged by attorneys on both sides, the School District has now agreed to remove the suspension from the boy’s record.

The Rutherford Institute had penned a letter to the school that stated “We request that you rescind the suspension and immediately remove all reference to it from Johnny’s permanent school record.”

A portion of The Rutherford Institute’s letter to the school regarding the case.

“There is no reason that Johnny should be stigmatized and branded a miscreant due to the school’s unreasonable application of its zero tolerance policy against him,” noted the letter, signed by Rutherford Senior Staff Attorney Douglas R. McKusick.

Calling the incident “a wholly unreasonable and disproportionate response to the action of the child,” the Institute then stoked media coverage of the incident, which was just another in a long line of ridiculous zero tolerance decisions taken by school officials.

“The Rutherford Institute has been called on to intervene in hundreds of cases like this involving young people who were suspended, expelled, and even arrested for conduct no matter how minor or non-threatening the so-called infraction may have been,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the group.

“We are gratified that the District recognized that allowing the suspension to remain on this student’s record was a senseless targeting of imaginary horseplay.” Whitehead added.

The amount of zero tolerance idiocy being actioned by schools across the nation has led some lawmakers to institute legislative action.

Representative Sally Kern of Oklahoma recently introduced the “Common Sense Zero Tolerance Act” in her state to prevent such incidents.

Specific actions protected under the legislation include:

1. Brandishing a pastry or other food which is partially consumed in such a way that the remnant resembles a weapon.
2. Possession of a toy weapon which is five (5) inches or less.
3. Possession of a toy weapon made of plastic or wood snap-together building blocks.
4. Using a finger or hand to simulate a weapon.
5. Vocalizing imaginary firearms or munitions.
6. Wearing articles of clothing or accessories that support or advance Second Amendment rights or organizations.

The bill also protects students who use objects such as a pencil to simulate a gun, as well as protecting those who draw pictures of firearms, military vehicles, aircraft or any object that can be deemed to protect constitutional freedoms.

Maryland Sen. J. B. Jennings also recently introduced a bill to stop such idiotic over reactions being played out over and over again in schools.


Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, and He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

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