I Hate This! Student Suspended for Opening Door

Readers — As you know, Free-Range Kids is about trust, community and common sense. All of which a Virginia middle school student displayed the other day when he held open the door for someone he knew.

For this, he was given a day long suspension. The reason? The school had just installed a $10,000 + security system, and his action violated it. Voila:

According to an anonymous e-mail sent to The Tidewater News, the “A” student opened the door for a woman he knew, who had her hands full. The e-mail also indicated the student received a one-day, out-of-school suspension.

[School administrator Wayne K.] Smith said he could not confirm the story for confidentiality reasons. Superintendent Charles Turner said he did not know all the details behind the suspension.

Turner said the policy that prohibits anyone from opening doors was part of making the security system work.

“If it happens, it’s defeated,” he said. “You have to have a system, and that system has to be consistent. We have to stay within the rules and stay secure.”

Turner explained that part of the school district’s mission is to provide a quality education in a safe environment.

“We looked at what we’re doing in our schools for safety and looked at what others have done,” he said.

That’s why the security system was installed initially at the secondary schools and then the elementary schools.

And yet, what the school fails to understand is that the student was an even BETTER security system! The student has a heart, a brain and hands. This incredible carbon-based security system can open the door when that makes sense! It can create a climate of warmth, help and connectedness that a locked door, even operated by remote control from the front office, cannot.

We are happier and safer when we connect, rather than we assume we’re all in dire peril and must outsource our humanity to excessive rules and   machines. — Lenore

Outrage of the Day: Boy Suspended for Nerf Gun

Hi Readers — Onto more toothsome matters tomorrow. But in the meantime, for your tearing-your-hair-out pleasure, we bring you this story of Zero Tolerance. What I love about it is the genius reasoning on the part of the principal, Candice Reese:

“It’s not too harsh of a punishment and we want to make sure all of our students are safe,” Reese said.

Because…they weren’t safe with a 6-year-old with a Nerf gun at recess? — L

Outrage of the Week: Boy Suspended for Lighter He Found on Way to School

Hi Readers — Like the headline says: A Jersey boy, 11,  found a lighter on his way to school. Brought it in, another kid noticed it, by 8:40 a.m. he was suspended for the day. Why? Because the lighter, “has the potential to compromise student safety in this building,” according to the superintendent quoted in this APP.com story. “It’s our responsibility to keep kids safe. I feel very secure about our decision. We have zero tolerance for this type of thing.”

Later she added, “It depends on your whole interpretation of what a weapon is. It’s not a weapon as a knife is a weapon. But a weapon is anything that has the potential to cause harm.”

So — time to get out the hack saws and chloroform. After all, students’ arms and legs have the potential to cause harm, too. Lots of it!  I’d feel super secure knowing none of the kids could kick someone down the stairs, or slam a locker, or even HOLD a lighter, much less use it. Let’s hear it for the logic of Zero Tolerance!  — Lenore

Outrage of the Day: 8 Year Old Suspended ANOTHER Year for Toy Gun

Hi Readers! Such stupidity cannot be condoned: An 8-year-old was suspended LAST year for bringing a toy gun to school (accidentally), and this year, the draconian punishment continues. The difference between TOY and WEAPON, between MISTAKE and PREMEDITATED, between KILLER and KID seems to be utterly lost on these “educators.”

The school board said they would admit Samuel into a correctional school for problem children who have been expelled located in Hallandale Beach.

The parents refused and believe their son has already paid for his mistake enough. Samuel has since been home-schooled, but his parents want him back in public school.

“I can’t sit here and allow them to send my kid to a school where students have committed actual crimes,” Burgos said. “He hasn’t committed a crime.”

Here’s the whole story. Thank goodness, this week the family gets another chance to persuade the school board that Zero Tolerance for rationality is maybe not such a great idea. — Lenore

Outrage of the Weekend: Student Suspended for “Bloodshot Eyes” After His Dad Dies

Hi Folks — Read it and weep, but not too hard or you may get suspended from school! Two days after a 16-year-old Texan’s dad died, he decided to return to school to feel a little normal again.

Except when he arrived late and went to the office for a tardy pass, the admins noticed his suspiciously red eyes and suspended him for suspected marijuana use. Didn’t matter that he did not appear high, or that no one said they’d seen him smoking, or that there wasn’t any marijuana on him.

His mom took him to a doctor who did a urine test that was clean not just of pot, but of all drugs. So the school rescinded the original decree — a suspension followed by placement in an alternative school till January. And then, eventually, it even apologized.

Anyway, the gory details are in the link. Guess that school never took the Free-Range Kids pledge: We vow NOT to think the worst first. — L.

Outrage of the Week: Boy Almost Suspended for Lego Gun The Size of a Cheeto

Hi Readers — I am ashamed to say this incident happened in my own city, New York. (Well, Staten Island, anyway.)

A Staten Island fourth-grader was reprimanded and almost suspended yesterday when the principal spotted him playing with a LEGO policeman and a two-inch-long toy gun during lunch, the Advance reports.

Under the city’s no-tolerance policy regarding guns in schools, PS 52 Principal Evelyn Matroianni brought 9-year-old Patrick Timoney to her office and called his mother to say the boy might be suspended for carrying the miniature toy gun to school.

Hallelujah, he avoided that fate, which I suppose should be considered a great victory. But a greater victory would have been a principal who figured that a teensy Lego gun is a teensy Lego gun and not the sign of a psychotic tween or threat to  the human race. — Lenore

Mini Outrage of the Week: Kid Suspended for Bringing Peppermint Oil to School

Hi Readers! What in tarnation? A 10-year-old girl brings peppermint oil to school, gives a few drops to her friends to flavor their water, and the next thing you know, she receives a whole, big in-school suspension, according to this article in The Boston Post (by way of Newsday).

Now, danger-wise, peppermint oil is right up there with ice cream sodas. It sounds like something the Music Man might peddle on the side, and it is ridiculous that the school went bonkers about it.

On the other hand, the principal did have a shred of reason going for him when he explained why the school is so gol-darn persnickety:  IF someone has allergies to this or that, it would be bad for kids to be sharing their foodstuffs heedlessly. And so all students are instructed, from kindergarten on, not to mix ‘n’ match their “substances,” as he (and the guidelines) put it.

So much for trading my tangerine for your Devil Dog. Verboten. So much for the school saying, “Kids. I know this was peppermint, but it’s still against the rules. Don’t do it again.”  Which would have made sense.

Nope. Naturally the mom is threatening a law suit. Naturally the school is insisting there is nothing at all preposterous about suspending a 10-year-old for a substance as old and harmless as camomile tea.

And naturally we are once again left to ponder how everything having to do with kids always becomes such a big deal these days. — Lenore