Some Parents Say Zero Tolerance Policy Punishes Students

FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — After the suicide of a Virginia student, Maryland school leaders are reviewing their zero tolerance policy.

As Gigi Barnett explains, some parents say it punishes innocent students.

Two weeks ago, school leaders at Catoctin High School in Frederick County suspended Skye Bogert.  It was over a fight in the school cafeteria, just before the school day.

Bogert, 15, says it was self-defense.

“She punched me in the face,” she said.

She was out of school for five days.  Her parents say she’s the victim of the school system’s zero tolerance policy because on two occasions the tenth-grader told a guidance counselor about the bullying on campus that often came by text message.

It’s the kind of case state school leaders want to review after a Virginia teen killed himself after he was suspended.

Now state school superintendent Dr. Nancy Grasmick is asking all of its 24 school districts to take a second look at zero tolerance.

Frederick County school leaders declined to talk on camera but in a written statement, school spokeswoman Marita Loose said, “We have a range of consequences for every infraction.  In every situation, there are two sides of the story and we cannot discuss this particular case.”

Grasmick’s office is conducting a review with all school districts.  They have a target date of March 22.

More from Gigi Barnett
  • If u were bullied & you report it does it stop? - Maryland (MD) - Page 2 - City-Data Forum

    […] Posted by searching4… Wow, is it on again at 11? [SIZE=3][SIZE=3]… also now on yahoo news: Some Parents Say Zero Tolerance Policy Punishes Students and: […]

  • gerrygriff

    Tell these parents many of whom haven’t a clue as to their children’s behavior to shut their pie holes. They get to say & do what they want at home but the school is off limits. Parents don’t see or want to think their precious P.I.A kid would act up…Wrrrrrong! these little s…t’s can be monsters out of the home….Send them all to Catholic school for a year & they will be cured or they will die.

    • IggyDad

      So you know all about what happened hmmm? You were never a kid and had a bully whack you for no reason? Lucky you. It is so easy for teachers and administrators to completely remove any thinking from the process and assign guilt to everyone. What is it about your tone that makes feel you are in that lazy-minded group?

      • IggyDad

        Ms. Diane, my comment was not directed to you but to the original poster.

      • Diane

        Oh, don’t get me wrong, I was no angel but between me and friends, we knew how not to get caught, by our parents and teachers, principals… because we knew if we got into trouble in school, our weekends were gone for a whole month. Do you think we were dummies…as high school kids, we didn’t want to be confine and be punished…For your information Mr. IggyDad, I was teased-racially teased and that was not a pretty picture when kids racially teased you because of your culture and how I was brought up because of ethnicity …that is very painful.

      • Diane

        Oh Mr. IggyDad, I am not a lazy-minded either. I just was taught by my father about how to respect people, and my elders. If we did not respect our elders, my father made sure we understood how to respect. And if you are talking about everyone, I think you are talking about the parents…because we parents are the guilty ones.

    • Diane

      I went to a Catholic school, it doesn’t matter whether Public or Catholic school, it all starts with the up bringing of the child as a toddler. How we disciplined them and how we taught consequences. Although I went to a Catholic school, I was afraid of my parents because if me or my siblings misbehave there was great consequences for our bad behavior.

  • gypsy

    hey piehole this is the father of that child. I don’t know how you raise your children obviously from how you talk pretty rotten. You know nothing of my daughter or my family, do not slander or commit defamation of charecter with your slang, I do know thisthough from how you talk, child protective services should be watching you, you must be a monster to your kids. Or is it that you were one of the bullys when you were a kid. How dare you speak like a bully, when parents are reaching out, go bully someone else.

    • uni7

      Gypsy, You’re really full of yourself eh blowhard. I raised four, no problems, no drugs, all are college grads & have families. True I don’t know your daughter buster but I suspect you really don’t either. Now put an egg in your shoe sonny & beat it.

      • Edwin

        Shut up you little troll. Why don’t you go die in a corner instead? You contribute nothing

      • rob

        Take your hand out of your shirt Napoleon, your little man complex won’t fly here. Why don’t you man up and be part of the F’n solution and not part of the problem because I guarantee that with an attitude like that you will get crushed like a bug on the road called Manhood. That road leads a man to protect others, especially children, fight for whats right and take care of our family’s. Shove that in your bully pipe and smoke it pu$$y, your out of your league.

      • rob

        that was for you EDWIN

    • 4silvas

      good for you Gypsy; I stand behind you 100%

    • rj

      The best way to resolve this is to take all of the kids who are starting fights and bring back corporal punishment. Bullie need to learn that someone bigger than them has the right to f them up if they do it to the person smaller than them.

  • Sharon

    LOL we can see where the bully gets it from, can’t we?

  • father

    let’s try this in an adult way of speaking with reasoning and rationality, This is about a child that I am the father of that went before a guidance counselor to talk about death threats, threats of someone rearranging her face, which places fear and anxioity on the mind of a 15 year old. On two occasions this guidance counselor spoke with them about this, and nothing ended up being resolved, one day my daughter is in the cafeteria and school is about to start, and then viciously attacked by the one who made death threats and promised to rearrange her face. She received back and neck strains, a head injury, her earring torn from her ear and locks of hair pulled out as well, with nobody stopping the bully from doing what she promised to do. There were other kids around her, and that blocked any exit to run from this attack, tables and walls as well in her way… so she was forced to defend herself the best that she could. .What my daughter and wife did by exposing this took alot of bravery in seek of justice and in hopes that it doesn’t happen to someone else. The method that they and I are using is a more peaceful method of resolution and resolve. I would hope you would not wish to, in the United States of America subject us to Omar Kadafi rule.. just shut up and take it. All we are , are parents that were reaching out for support against bullys, thats it, All we are is people who are requesting a normal form of due process that is fair and unbiased.

    • rob

      I was bullied and I was able to defend myself which I did. My school however, a fancy Pre scool in the NE, DID NOTHING, to make me feel safe, NOTHING. I hated school, every day. A school Primary responsibility is to create a safe, as low stress environment as possible FIRST, then move forward with teaching, you can’t have one without the other. It is amazing to me that school staff would not take care of this immeadiatly. They are failures and clearly have shown little if any leadership. They should be replaced.

      • B

        Yea, I was bullied, too. I eventually dropped out! The bullys always won, because they were also sneaky and manipulative.
        BTW…now my life ROCKS…and they bullies got theirs!!!

      • rob

        I hear ya, they didn’t win but I was still f’n miserable, way to much stress.

    • 4silvas


    • SMH

      To Father:
      I completely understand how you feel and how your daughter feels. My daughter is being bullied right now. she is a senior. She is getting horrible text messages and I am not chalking it up as “girls will be girls” NO WAY…..Something is going to be done about it. I trust the school to keep my child safe during the hours she is there and it IS THEIR JOB. It is their job to make sure these things do not happen. It has nothing to do with bad parenting. You could not pay me to go back to school these days. Kids are mean and vicious and they need to be punished for their actions. If they are noth then we can expect that everyday this is going to happen and no one will stop it.

  • Al

    Don’t you people get it? The schools HAVE TO have zero tolerance or else every students loving Mommy and Daddy will SUE THE SCHOOL every time their innocent darling gets in a fight!!!! It’s not to protect only the kids, but also to protect the school from suit-crazy parents!!!

    • rob

      If you have it then enforce it, this school clearly didn’t.

    • IggyDad

      Zero tolerance = Zero thought
      That’s how many lazy teachers and school administrators want it.

    • 4SILVAS


      • Rob


    • J

      They have think, not have zero tolerance…

  • GeoCache

    “Zero Tolerance” is simply a non-thinking, non-objective, CYA policy for those that inflict it. It’s all about assuming that these policies can protect them from lawsuits… they wont. Parents, Use written communications at all times, leave a paper trail. Schools need to adopt a mandatory, written procedure for investigation of bullying claims and making bullying an actionable offense… that would be a start.

  • Triana Elan

    give the kids cell phones with no texting and school should have a cell phones off policy. that at least solves the texting problem.

  • Maria

    My child was pushed down the stairs, stuffed into lockers and threatened everyday because she “looked” Arabic, Mexican or too dark to be a real American. The school did not care, and after a while, they would berate her for always having a problem. None of the bullies were ever dealt with. After the second stairway pushing incident, I pulled her out and home schooled her. BTW, all of the kids that we knew were Arabic had to drop out of school for the same reasons.

  • Anne

    My son was tormented by a few of his classmates until his 5th grade teacher decided to hide on the playground and caught the ‘gifted & talented’ students bullying him. She called all of the parents in for a meeting and asked them to take away all of their home privileges and she spoke to the students about her loss of trust and respect for them. For one week, they spent their lunch and recess with her in the classroom. The bullying stopped. But, the psychological damage of 6 years of bullying took their toll on him as he continues to struggle with depression and anxiety.

    When my youngest child, an adopted Korean girl, was bullied in middle school, I took a completely different and effective approach. I called the Principal and informed him that my daughter was subjected to repeated bullying incidents by a white boy. I told him to relay the following information to the boy’s parents that I was going to file harassment and/or simple assault charges against their son with the local police and racial discrimination and harassment with the US Civil Rights Office if their son even spoke to my daughter again. The principal tried to tell me that they would investigate the incidents but I said ‘No, the only way to stop this is through police and the courts because the boy and his parents are not going to make him stop without possible adverse consequences’. Guess what, the school talked to other students who collaborated my daughter’s story and the student was moved to the other teaching team on the other side of the building. The following school year, he was transferred to another middle school in the district.

    I worked in public schools as a counselor and I found the only real tool to stop bullying when working with resistant parents, child, or school is the police & the courts. I, also, found that the ‘good kids’ are just as likely to bully as the ‘problem kids’. The difference is that the good kids who are bullies tend to be protected more then the problem kids. And, their parents are more likely to enable and encourage the bullying behavior through their own attitudes and actions.

  • pigeon

    And when are they going to do something about teachers being bullies. Parkville Sr. Hi is loaded with them, especially including the principal. Since she came on board she has infected the teachers. Horrible situation there!

  • Diane

    Parents stop being your child’s best friend. Discipline and consequences should be taught at home. This is why we have this problem because they don’t understand what is punishment, discipline and consequences of their actions. When I hear parents say, “I want to be my child’s best friend” it makes me wonder how in the world they plan to discipline their children when they get out of control. My son is ADHD, he was disciplined, disciplined and had to understand for his bad behavior there were consequences he has to deal with and I would NOT give in to his whining, and crying. I took away what he love the most being with friends, XBox and playing sports.

    • Diane

      When I took away what he loved he had to earn it back and show me he was worthy to have his priveleges back. Until then, he gets what is required by law, a home, education, medical attention, clothing, food. All other, it is my choice as a parent if I so desire to fund his extraciricular activities. Now my son is in college he tells me if it wasn’t for me disciplining him and consequences he would not be where he is at. It’s based upon us (parents) to teach, mold and guide our children how we would want them to be as an adult.

  • Steve

    Take out zero tolerance and bring back common sense. And Diane is totally right about discipline and consequences. You can be a friend …. but use tough love.

    • JMH

      They go to school to make friends, my job is to be the parent! You want to be your kids friend? Raise one that as an adult will be a “friend” to you. Treating your child like a friend not a child doesnt do them any favors and doesnt teach them what they need to learn to be a good person and someday a good parent!

  • kerry

    I’ve been out of highschool for 2.5 years now,and I want to weigh in on this situation.I’m a tad torn on the subject.I was bullied in junior high,and no one did a thing.I got into a fight in senior high,who has a zero tolerance policy as well.That situation truly was self defense,especially since I had a video of the whole thing.But,in my opinion,the suspension idea is both good and bad because it gives the people involved a chance to cool off,but it disrupts their learning.Also,those of you that call yourselves parents on here should be ashamed at the rudeness you are displaying.Mr. father,i understand you are defending your daughter,as you should,but think about what happens if any of her bullies saw the way you are acting and tormented her for that? Some of the things you guys are saying here make you sound no better than the silly teens you are complaining about.

  • Rich

    I am still not sure why, if this school has a zero tolerance policy, these children who get into fights with each other aren’t being arrested and put into a prison.
    “Zero tolerance” is a clear, unambiguous term. It means that if you participate in a fight at school, the school will call the local police, who will then arrest both parties to the fight and place them both in an adult jail.

    Why are we not seeing these kids placed in a jail? In the general population?

    • Diane

      Rich, the kids are not the issue, the issue is how our children are discipline at home. Discipline and consequences start from the time they are able to walk and talk. If they were never taught discipline, consequences and how to respect, and learning to keep their hands to themselves, this what we parents get “hell” monsters – out of control kids that don’t give a rat about people including adults. These children don’t understand what it is to respect each other..because of us adults. So we adults blaming the system when the system is us…the parents. Sorry it goes back to the home life and how our children are raised. Just remember these children watch adults action and when we behave badly and disrepect people, they think it’s ok. If we want them to understand it’s not ok..we as adult have to show these kids what is right and wrong and when they behave wrong-they need to be discipline and take responsibility for their action by dealing with consequences. Jail nor boot camp is not the answer…the answer is us….the parents.

    • Jessica Doubletrouble Dudgeon

      We’re already in a deficit, don’t you think all the fighting that goes on in schools is going to be a little expensive putting kids in jail? While it might be a good thought to scare them straight, tax payers can’t afford the cops to be called for every brawl, transport and booking em’. It’s just not realistic. They need to open up boot camps. Now that’s my kind of punishment for the little punk bullies. Have a drill sergeant scream at them and belittle them for a few days. Cut them down to size and make bullies realize they’re no different than the kids they’re picking on.

      • Rich

        I think that the impulse to place the bullies into a boot camp is a good one, but that’s just a start. And why just the bullies, though? I guess I am just confused as to why it’s not possible to put all of the children in jail.

  • Bernard mc kernan

    Kids learn bullying from their parents / guardians. Whether it’s by physical or verbal, this is waht they see firsthand. Don’t blame it all on the T.V. because Mom or Dad are the ones given the permission to view this slop & if not, The parents better take a more active role in raising their children.

  • deecee

    I was suspended twice in high school. Neither incident caused me suicidal Depression.

    There is nothing wrong sith suspending students. Just be fair in the judgement.

  • Rich

    It may become necessary to begin incarceration of the parents. They are the ones who “lead” the children and guide them. If the parents are not capable of instilling the proper terror into the children (the terror of what might happen if they should break the rules), then it is up to each individual school to incarcerate the parents.

    • Diane

      Rich, you have a good sense, but remember our children also read what we write and any sense of angry, aggressive words, teachs our children the wrong message. If we are senseable parents, we have to be ten step ahead and be constructive. Remember now, the school system are so afraid of those type of parents. I have watched good parents-meaning they work hard and discipline their kids, go to turmoil because of the school system. My son was bullied in elemetary school, along with several other boys, in disbelief, I decided to go to the school and monitor the situation and low and behold my son and along with 5 other boys were bullied by two boys. I got into that boys face and told him to go home. After, I went straight to the principal explained what I monitored and told her she better put those two boys into check. I made my son to give the two boys name to the principal and I told her if those two boys,retaliate on my son in anyway, I will hold her and the school responsible for not protecting him…Did he have problem after that…NOPE! The two boys were not allowed to hang out or participate in after school activities, After school they were required to leave the school property immediately when school let out. The school/principal have to remember, when the parent come to the school and let it be known of their child being bullied, as a parent, I will expect the school to do the right thing by protecting. If the school closed their eyes and turn the other way by just waiving the Zero Tolerance Policy in a parents face, that will not work for me as a parent. My child have the same right as that bully child to have the same education. When the school don’t do nothing, they failed as administrators and the school failed as an instrument to be an advicator for our children. When the school just say we are “looking” or “investigating”…they are actually sitting on it cause the bully child parents are bullying the school, the administrators and so forth down the line. I agree the school should put the consequences on the parents. Those parents should be held accountable for their bully child’s behavor. These administrators must remember, our children should not have to go through any of this torment in order to get an education. Our children have the same rights as those disfunctional children along with their disfunctional parents. Need I say more! It starts with the parents and their home life.

    • cephus

      years ago when kids did not go to school their parents where picked up and put in jail the same should be done now when it comes to kids that have no control when they are in school the teachers can not raise the kids they can only do so much in the class room

      • Rich

        Exactly. I am just blown away by the fact that schools are NOT imprisoning laid-back parents. What is so hard about this? Each INDIVIDUAL school principal should be arresting neglectful parents, and placing them in a jail!

  • Dusty Shook

    It should be zero tollerance for the bully not the bullied. What are these kids supposed to do when attacked? Lay down and say go ahead and beat me sensless. In no way shape or form should the person being attacked be punished. My dad always use to tell me I better not start a fight or their will be grave consequences. However he also told me if some one started a fight with me I better finish it. And I have always taught my kids to stand up for themselves to punish the attacked is unfair and unjust.

  • matthias

    We wanted zero tolerance policies… but not for “our” kidlet.

    Grrrls fighting for lulz.

  • marinemom41

    So does this mean that if the parent went to talk to the school administrator who enforces the “zero tolerance” policy and punched the administrator in the face, they would both go to jail???

    • Rich

      No. It’s so simple, though. It defies contemplation that people can’t figure this out.
      Kids fighting in the school? Have the principal go to the house, cuff the parents, and place them in a jail! I don’t care how old the parents are, or allergies, or any of these concerns! Let’s bring the violence level down already!

  • Patricia Smith

    There should be no tolerance in school…its a good way to remind students of the golden rule once learned ion kindergarten…keep your hands to your self.

    • IggyDad

      So the victims are equally at fault? What part of the golden rule is that?

  • Alicia

    I do not understand why this is still an issue. It has been happening for so long that someone should have come up with a solution. We have heard so many stories during the years that you would think school administration would see the signs and get it under control before it gets that far. My prayers go out to all the families that have been victims.

    • Diane

      Alicia, this is an issue now, because for years administrators, faculties and advisors have pushed this problem under the rug and decline to deal with this issue. They have closed their eyes or turned their head to this problem. Bullied was a problem when I was in school (20 yrs and counting) and I went to a Catholic school to make it worst. The nuns and principal were afraid of 4 boys that bullied us kids. The only way we dealt with those kids that loved to bullied other kids, we faught together, when one go picked on, we came as a group to let them know we were not going to tolerate our play time. The administrators are so afraid of being sued that they rather turn and investigate the situration. That way they can say, they doing something about it by investigating. If kids, come together that is another alternative by letting those kids know they are not welcomed in their world for being tormenated or bullied. Oh, Their were 32 kids in our class, they couldn’t suspend or kick out all 32 kinds for fighting off a kid was bullying them. Guest what, all 32 kids were punished and had to stay after school, could not participate in after school activities and were assigned different things for a week and sometimes for two weeks…(Picking up trash, cleaning the classroom, cleaning the church, beautification in the community. FYI, after doing this many of time being punished as a class, we as a class go tired of them and came together as one by excluding thos bully kids our of our circle. Those boys finally got the picture to get it together if they wanted to belong in our group- The whole class stopped talking to them , didn’t allow them into our circle of friends and when they were talking we made it like they didn’t exist. If those bully kids wanted to belong, they had to change their ways and we were not going to change for them. And guest what, those bully boys don’t like to be ignored or made inviisible…they had to conform to what is expected in our circle of friends as a class and that is to know how to respect their peers and stop tormenting bullying others.

  • Rich

    There are a lot of people going around on here saying that the parents of unruly and bullying kids should be enslaved. I’m not saying that, and I think that putting the parents into slavery probably goes a little too far. Yes, extreme measures need to be taken. Yes, zero tolerance works only if it’s level-headed. So, to whoever it was on here who was saying that putting the parents into slavery was the answer, I think you’re really barking up the wrong tree here.

  • mom

    This is the mother of the child that was bullied. Skye always felt a little out of place at school, it was hard enough for her or any kids today to make friends, the bullying makes it a very bad experience to go to school instead of a learning experience. About two years ago, my daughter wrote a song about how hard it is to fit in at school, we have a website we had built for songs for people with disabilities, soldiers, things of that nature, we put her song that she wrote called listen on it, there is also a video of it, If you listen to the words it pretty much sums it up for how it is trying to fit in while you are in school. you can find the video here

    Or the song on the site she helped with here:

    • SMH

      Mom, this is wonderful. I am so sorry for what happened to your daughter and I commend her for trying to help others. My daughter is being bullied right now and I will NOT turn a deaf ear………I am taking the steps to make it stop……..if the school refuses, I will go to the police. It is harrassment and should not be tolerated!!!!!!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Track Weather On The Go With Our App!

Listen Live