Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Zero Tolerance = Zero Sense

This is what happens when administrations implement "zero tolerance" policies so that they don't have to think. And yes, it *is* here in Massachusetts... Mrs. SCI-FI sent this in with the tagline "Everything wrong with MA schools".

North Andover High Punishes Teen For Giving Drunken Pal Ride Home From Party
NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) — It’s tough for Eleanor Cox to talk about how heartbroken her daughter Erin is over the punishment she received for doing what she thought was right.

“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn’t do anything wrong,” Cox told WBZ-TV on Sunday.

Two weeks ago, Erin received a call from a friend at a party who was too drunk to drive. Erin drove to Boxford after work to pick up her friend. Moments after she arrived, the cops arrived too and busted several kids for underage possession of alcohol.
So, this girl is at home. She gets a call from a friend that the friend is at a party, has had too much to drink, and cannot drive home. Being a responsible person, she goes to give her friend a ride home, and because of that, she is being punished? This is beyond ridiculous. The police cleared her of any wrongdoing, having determined that she had not been involved in the drinking but happened to be at the party at the wrong time. She did exactly what she'd been told to do - rather than her friend get behind the wheel after drinking, she called a sober friend for a ride. Isn't that exactly what they're taught to do in the DARE/anti-DUI lessons?

So, now, we have an honor student and athlete who cannot participate in her sport and will most likely see her grade point average suffer because she did the right thing. The girl who called her for a ride has got to feel awful about this, because her friend got punished for helping her out. Any guesses on whether she and her other partying friends will call a sober friend next time? Or are they more likely just slip behind the wheel and attempt to drive home, figuring they don't want to get their friends in trouble?

Because of one pinheaded administrator who couldn't deviate from the one-size-fits-all policy, this girl has been punished, harshly, for doing the right thing. I hope her parents get a good lawyer and sue the district over this, especially since they have seen fit to double down on their zero tolerance stupid and fight a court injunction against the punishment - not only did their zero tolerance policy punish an innocent person, but they're backing that decision. You see, the whole reason for "zero tolerance" policies is so chickens**t administrators don't have to make judgement calls - *this* case is bad, but *that* case isn't. They can point to the policy and turn their brains off, smug in the knowledge that "it's policy" trumps any sort of need for discretion or judgement.

The administrators in North Andover can fold their "zero tolerance" policy until it is all sharp corners and cram it...

That is all.


Anonymous said...

If they want to keep going down the road of "zero tolerance" I say that teachers and administrators get the same treatment: one complaint on their record and they get fired. Somehow, I think if that were the case you'd see a lot less of that crap going around... BTW - my son was a victim of the same type of policy. Really short version: bullied into a fight on the bus with an older kid. Result, denied to go on week-long Washington DC class trip.

Anonymous said...

So either this administrator spent her life inside a convent before taking this job or is a complete hypocrite who forgets what it was like to be a teenager trying to do the right thing.

Hiding behind rules and regulations is the sign of a limited intellect.


Armed Texan said...

You know, I think the real problem is that we never hear of these administrators being fired afterwards. Fear of losing their jobs would do wonders for their reasoning skills. That or the local hardware store suddenly selling out of tar and the local craft store running low on feathers...

Dirk said...

This kind of thing disgusts me on a very deep and primal level. You can bet if it happened to one of my kids that there'd be a massive lawsuit filed at the earliest possible opportunity. I've drilled it into my kids that they are never to drive while intoxicated, and to never get in a car with an intoxicated driver. I've told them that if they're ever in that kind of situation, to CALL ME, any time of the day or night, and I'll come get them and even their friends, no questions asked, no scene, no yelling...at least not until the next day.

Because, you see...if they make that call, there *WILL* be a next day. If they don't, there might not be.

This school system should be praising this young lady, not punishing her. I hope her parents are going after that school system with everything they can.

One question I saw in the comments for that story you linked: What jurisdiction does the school even have for activities that aren't happening on school grounds, or on school buses, or at school events? Do the schools really believe they have say-so over every aspect of every student's life? My take is that once the student leaves school property, or gets off the bus, or leaves a school event, the school no longer has any jurisdiction over that student, in any way, shape or form. What happens away from school is none of the school's business.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"Any guesses on whether she and her other partying friends will call a sober friend next time? Or are they more likely just slip behind the wheel and attempt to drive home, figuring they don't want to get their friends in trouble?"

Even worse, if they do call a friend, how many will actually agree to help now that they know they'll be punished? How many kids will try driving home drunk not because they didn't try to do the right thing, but because no one would help them?

Armed Texan is right - the local stores should be completely sold out of tar, feathers, and fence rails right now.

Borepatch said...

North Andover doesn't need to worry about a lawsuit from this girl's parents. They need to worry about a lawsuit when some teen drives drunk and dies because they won't call for a ride.

That payout will be big.

RabidAlien said...

+1 to everything Dirk said.

Sigivald said...

They can point to the policy and turn their brains off, smug in the knowledge that "it's policy" trumps any sort of need for discretion or judgement.

More like, "they can point to the policy when some parent tries to sue them for being Too Harsh On Little Johnny".

If they have to be equally harsh on everyone and never use judgment, they can never lose a discrimination lawsuit.

Equally, they'll never (in the case of zero-tolerance drug or weapons policies) be on the spot explaining why Nothing Was Done To Prevent This overdose/shooting/stabbing.

All the incentives point to never using judgment or taking a chance - so they don't.

Chris said...

Given how these cases usually end, the administrator/school (and taxpayers) will lose. But it will take months at least, and the girl's grades will suffer in the meantime. I also agree quite heartily with Borepatch, and expand on it to the point that local law firms are already "war-gaming" the likely opportunity so as to be ready when it happens.

Anonymous said...

Oh the message the administrator is sending is very loud and clear.

"Drink and Drive. It's okay as you'll go before a Judge when you are caught and get a slap on the wrist. You may do some time, but consider that a rite of passage and next week you'll be driving again, so yeah; no worries."

If the intoxicated (impaired) person were to drive and did get into a crash and kill some member of the administrators family - I can only imagine the farce that would come from that tragedy.

You would think that public shaming would mean something to the administrator especially from the fallout. I guess egg on the face looks (and tastes) rather good.

GreyLocke said...

I think the district officials if elected need to be primaried, if not, the superintendent needs to be. That is the one main thing I like about Texas. Very few appointed political offices.

Geodkyt said...

What Borepatch and Dirk said.

As a member of a school board (different state) I would be very interested in seeing what nexus to the school the school board is using to justify their intervention. As in, "school boards have been taken to federal court for punishing kids outside school settings". (Yes, we do get briefed on how not to get sued, based on the latest stautory and case law.)

Because the school system may have wide ranging authority to enforce school rules off school grounds when there is a tangible connection between the activity and the school, but they are not the friggin' Stasi for Teenagers.

I cannot even fathom how a NONDRINKER, driving up solely to PICK UP a drunk, so said drunk DOESN'T GET HURT is a violation of their division policies. . .

Geodkyt said...

Oh, and it's not just going to be a massive lawsuit when some kid drinks and drives and gets killed because no one is willing to risk picking them up.

It's a massive lawsuit when some drunk girl gets raped because no on ewould pick her up.