I believe that this practice puts a misplaced priority on maintaining secrecy over effective management of the incident, while creating a double standard for public safety system access and the potential for confusion in true emergency situations.
The slippery slope of "zero tolerance" has not reared its ugly head here as much as it has elsewhere. The Sentinel's editorial this morning cites a rather grievous example of the potential for abuse of these policies by over-zealous school personnel. Hopefully the Supreme Court will recognize this, by affirming the female student's 4th Amendment right not to be strip-searched for Ibuprofen.
Zero tolerance for weapons, or any representation thereof, would seem to make sense on the surface, until you consider the case of the honor student in the Cherry Creek School District south of Denver, who was expelled in February for having three fake wooden rifles used by her drill team in her car on school property.
The school district responded to the significant public and professional outcry by saying that they were only following the state law that requires an expulsion. Fortunately, a Republican State Senator has introduced a revision to this law which will apply the expulsion requirement to actual firearms only.
Despite some of the interesting commentary from the school Principals interviewed by the Sentinel, it is becoming readily apparent from a number of perspectives that zero tolerance equals zero common sense. I expect that continued efforts at allowing discretion in some of these areas will be put forth and enacted.
At the same time, I hope that greater emphasis will be placed on transparency and consistency in the reporting and management of incidents that occur on our school campuses. As parents, neighbors, and taxpayers, we deserve to know what kind of environment we are sending our children into, what kinds of issues are being dealt with that impact our neighborhoods, and what kind of organizational effectiveness our tax dollars are paying for.
As my only child prepares to leave the public school system, I'm thankful for the dedicated staff of teachers and administrators that made his school experience a (mostly) safe one. I look forward to continuing improvement in communication between administrators, citizens, public safety, and the media in its varying forms.
In a focus area where there are so many stakeholders and so many varying agendas and priorities, the better we are able to communicate and understand, the safer we will be.
Have a safe and blessed week ahead.