Maryland To Review Schools’ Zero-Tolerance Policy

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There is a widespread warning for Maryland schools.  The state wants to review its “zero-tolerance” discipline policy in schools statewide.

Gigi Barnett explains the move comes after a Virginia teen committed suicide, possibly because of the rule.

In January, 15-year-old Nick Stuban took his life. His parents believe a recent suspension from his Fairfax County high school may have sparked the suicide.

School leaders transferred Stuban to another school after he was caught buying one capsule of a legal pill that acts like marijuana.

Although it was his first offense and the drug is legal, the district’s zero-tolerance policy forced school leaders to get rid of Stuban.

Ten days later the distraught teen killed him and some groups want zero-tolerance gone.

“It’s gotten too punitive. It’s gotten too criminal in its orientation, and not enough therapeutic and teaching and helping these kids mature,” said John Farrell, Zero-Tolerance Reform.

Now parents are coming together to make sure what happened to Stuban doesn’t happen in Maryland.

State school leader Dr. Nancy Grasmick wants all of Maryland’s 24 school districts to review their discipline policy.

“We have to be smarter about how we are evaluating situations, evaluating kids and we don’t believe knee-jerk reactions,” said Sonja Brookins-Santelises, Baltimore City Schools.

Most Maryland schools consider suspension when a student’s actions interfere with safe learning, but suspension is almost a sure thing when a student is involved in arson, a physical attack, or sexual assault. If a student is caught with a firearm or weapon, they could face expulsion.

For most Maryland schools, discipline is dished on a case-by-case basis.

Virginia state school leaders say their hands are tied when it comes to suspensions, especially in cases that involve weapons or drugs on campus. Under that state’s law, school leaders are required to suspend a student.

Opponents of zero-tolerance say the discipline rule violates students’ due process.

More from Gigi Barnett
  • this is what it comes down to

    I’m sorry, but that kid had more issues than the school’s zero-tolerence policy. I certainly hope that the parents are part of the solution and not just complaining because “my child would never do that” as was the case at my school when a student brought a knife to school and threatened other students. That student got off with a one day suspension because it was a first offense. Wish they had a zero-tolerence policy then.

  • bernard mc kernan

    Kids for the most part learn Hate, love, prejudice & other social skills at home. Very good chance this child had other issues that parents mask conveniently when & if they ever attend a parents/teachers conference with students or wait to squeal like pigs when the kid is tossed out of school on their ass as they should be.

  • K. Owen

    Hello, “Bernard” and “This is what it comes down to” – were you perfect in high school? Did you ever make any mistakes, use poor judgement, or perhaps not know the implications of a rule infraction? These kids brains are not fully developed. They don’t need our punitive rejection, they need our guidance, reform and support. Every textbook dealing with the mental health of teens tells you their support system is largely in their peers. To be cast out to an unknown world for making a single (albeit large) mistake treats every kid like a hardened criminal. Shame on you for assuming these kids had “other issues” so they had it coming to them. Let’s see your perfect teen make a minor mistake and let’s see how you feel being cast into this disciplinary system. Please try to not label all kids how make one mistake as “bad”. All kids (and you, for any traffic violations you may make) deserve a second chance.

  • larrybigdic

    Excuses, excuses. Enabling is what Mom’s today are good for. “Not my precious little dirt bag”. I went to summer school for my mistakes & not my parents. 16 years of Catholic education taught me how to conduct myself & it was reinforced at home.
    Get with the program Lady or get busy enabling & looking after your snot kid all their lives.

  • zero tolerance needs to be done away with

    I hope something is done about the zero tolerance. My son was suspended because he got a bloody nose from another kid that threw a football and hit him in the face all because the kid was mad my sons team beat him in gym. My son did nothingbut receive a bloddy nose. The schools reason for suspending him was that he was part of an altercation.

    • Go After The Source

      OK — So you go to the principal and say, “What’s up with this?” You are correct. The other kid should have at least been suspended as well. You can’t drop an overall good Blanket Policy like this one for isolated incidents. If your kid’s school is like most in the Baltimore area, they should have a resident “cop”. All you need to do is explain your situation to the school Administrators and they will make the situation right.

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  • pigeon

    The rules don’t need to be reviewed. Those who enforce it need to be “schooled” on the proper way to handle it and the situations. I have a real problem with the kids now-a-days being pampered. Life is not easy for ANYONE. You need to learn to deal with all the ups and downs and bumps in the night. It is all part of growing up and, most importantly, doing what is right, not what you WANT to do. I bet not 90% of the kids growing up today, in the future and those in the past, even know what REAL punishment is, let alone the parents actually carrying it through.

    • drboomer

      Amen brother. Read on.

  • drboomer

    One of the problems there is in todays scociety is that no one wants to take responsability for their actions. It is a lot of time reenforced by parents. A few years ago my 7 year old daughter was threatened by a boy in our neighborhood who was 4 years older than her. When I took him to his mother and told her what had happened, her response to me was (in front of her son) “my boy would never say or do anything like that, so, you must be lying” I assured her that I had heard the threat he said to my daughter, and assured her I would not be wasting my time or hers for something I wasn’t sure of. She repeated herself. I decided that further conversation with her on this would be a waste of time. If that situation had come up again, I would have called the police and let them handle it. But it a shame when you face this type of thing from a parent who quite frankly isn’t interested in hearing about threats her 11 year old son makes against a 7 year old girl.

    • pigeon

      I know what you mean. My kids seemed to be the only ones who did wrong and paid the consequences. I loved my childen enough to punish them and also spanked them (rarely – but not “beat”); never more than 2 hits. Take away parents’ authority and look at what you reap. I am very thankful my parents loved me enough to correct me for what I did wrong – guarantee tell you there were no repeats. And, I respected them; I was not afraid of them. Had I dared spoken to them the way kids do today and with the words they use, I would hate to think of what MAY have happened.

  • Mike

    Maryland’s Zero-Tolerance policy is right on Queue. What’s not is kids bringing the “legal stuff” to school. The kid in this story killed himself because he got suspended for buying a legal pill at school. Why is he buying pills at school? If the pills are legal, why isn’t Mommy & Daddy buying them for him at the local drugstore? Now parents want Zero-Tolerance re-evaluated. Buying tobacco and alcoholic products is legal as well. Supposed this kid had been suspended for buying a beer? Without the Zero-Tolerance policy, Schools are being opened up for all kinds of issues. I only wish this policy was in effect when I was going to school. Back in the 70’s, high schools gave in to the pressure and allowed students to smoke on campus (outside of course). If this hadn’t been allowed, I myself wouldn’t have gotten hooked on tobacco products (to this day). I say leave the policies alone — I feel bad for this kid’s family. However, altering policies for the actions of one can hurt thousands.

  • roland park student

    I go to roland park elementary middle school and they do not care . my friend got attacked by some girl we didnt even know then . a teacher held my friend back while the girl counti ued to beat her up. bullying is a problem that has gotten to big .

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