End zero tolerance policy reconsider Grant Washburn's football eligibility
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The goal of zero tolerance policies are to keep schools safe; however research indicates that there is no evidence of the desired results. More often than not students are punished for very trivial offenses. Examples of these across the nation include: May, 1999, Florida: sophomore given a 10-day suspension and
threatened with expulsion for loaning her nail clippers with an attached nail file to a friend; Ohio high school student 1999 was suspended for 90 days and flunked, after school authorities found a broken pocketknife on him that he had used to clean his golfing cleats; a Seventh-grader Indiana was suspended for five days for briefly holding a pill and saying no she would not take it. The list of events like this goes on and on.
There are many good article to read for your own research on the subject:
This is happening in our school system and we need to speak out against it.
I would like to ask for your consideration in the matter regarding Grant Washburn’s removal from athletics for the 2012-2013 school years due to an EMPTY plastic baggie found among a trash bag's worth of additional trash. The student then passed several drug screens and volunteered to undergo further testing throughout the year to prove his innocence. The stance of the ruling is that the school has no minimum amount in order to claim possession of a controlled substance (Zero Tolerance). I would challenge that in this case the non-amount present and the existence of a clean drug screening would be sufficient evidence to merit an alternate ruling. I believe that the verdict sends the message to our students, parents, staff, and community that a policy is more important than a child. In addition, ruling in this manner is in contradiction with the Los Alamos Public Schools vision for a community-school partnership. Each case, as each child, is individual and I would expect this case to be evaluated in such a manner.
Our actions send messages to the community and to our students about what we value. When we punish a student with a clean drug screening we demonstrate to that child that his or her actions are of no consequence. In many ways this situation parallels your response to LA Monitor Editorial (February 14, 2011), in regards to keeping the school open during the energy crisis. In this letter you encourage the writer to “celebrate positive examples” and not to “dwell on perceptions of what might be”. Furthermore, you criticize how “the writer chose to take an easy path when the community would have been better served by sharing the examples of how we worked together as a school and community to aid our neighbors.” I would also encourage you to celebrate the positive example Grant Washburn made by agreeing to the search of the vehicle, by repeatedly passing the drug screens, and by volunteering for extended testing. I believe that by dwelling on the perceptions of what might be, we are sending the message that these matters are not about students they are about policy. Does the symbolic gesture to keep Grant out of sports in order to look good mean more than the genuine gesture of keeping him in sports to actually do good?
“For over two decades, psychologist Michael Reichert, who runs the Center for the Study of Boys’ and Girls’ Lives, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, has been thinking about how a boy learns to be a man. He’s worked with boys on street corners, in jails, on the basketball court, and in his office. He knows by heart the mental health statistics, the criminal justice numbers, and the graphs that represent how boys are underachieving in school. But mostly, he’s seen firsthand the myriad ways in which boys seem to go wrong. As a consulting psychologist at the private Haverford School outside Philadelphia and as the father of two sons, he’s come up with a novel idea. Boys aren’t stupid. Boys aren’t insensitive. To his eye, boys who are failing to meet the expectations of our society are behaving in the ways we tell them to behave. If we want to change the behavior of boys, Reichert says, we need to change the negative, self-destructive, and contradictory messages we give them.” - Peg Tyre (2008), The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card
It is my understanding that the Los Alamos Public Schools organized a strategic planning effort to develop a 5-year strategic plan for sustainable excellence. The thrust areas in order to promote student success are: (1) quality teachers, leaders, and staff; (2) aligned resources and support systems; (3) parent and community partnerships; and (4) system for continuous improvement. I have discovered the parent and community response to be overwhelmingly against the ruling, both in my collection of physical signatures and in electronic signatures. The number of signatures that I have collect may not blow you away, but I ask you to consider that I collected this in one day amidst all my other daily obligations and I only encountered four individuals that did not wish to sign. In your August 14, 2012 blog, entitled Advancing Lives: Our Journey to Excellence, you note, “All of our graduates hopes and dreams serve as a reminder that the pursuit of excellence is ongoing. As a community, we must continue to ask ourselves ‘What do we do well?’ and importantly, ‘What can we do better?’”. This is one of those areas in which we say, “We can do better.” The community, faculty, and student body has demonstrated their concern over this ruling. A vital component of “The Los Alamos Public Schools’ strategic plan to raise the quality of our schools” is community listening; I would conclude that the community has spoken in disagreement with this matter.
In keeping this judgment we will be failing to account for all the good actions that Grant has taken to get where he is today. He should be provided with the opportunity to challenge himself and to rise to our high standards for him. Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
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