- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

These school no-tolerance policies have just sucked up another youthful non-offender into the mix.

A 16-year-old Alabama girl, caught by teachers carrying a water gun, was tossed from school for an entire year. Yes, you read that right: a squirt gun.

The Montgomery Advertiser reportedSara Allena “Laney” Nichols,” who attended Prattville High School, was given a water pistol by another student — a water pistol that was black in color and may have given the casual observer pause, wondering about its realness. And yet, at the end of the day, it was still a toy — a fake, a fraud, a not real weapon.

Nichols reportedly put the toy in her backpack and then, in her car. A student who happened to walk by her car saw the toy on the back seat and reported it to authorities.

And school administrators, when faced with the predicament of determining what to do with a child who brought a toy to school, turned tail on common sense and got their Rambo on.

Nichols was originally handed a 10-day suspension. But in a hearing on the matter, Autauga County Board of Education members suspended-slashed-expelled her from all schools in the county — she can’t even set foot on school property — for a year.

“She’s 16,” said Nichols‘ mother, the Blaze reported. “We admit what she did was wrong. I was hoping this could be a teachable moment for her. We’re not saying she should not have been punished. But she took a 10-day suspension. And then the board expelled her. We feel the expulsion is excessive.”

That’s ‘cause it is.

Schools have long ago abandoned the “teachable moment” atmosphere — the one that recognizes youth, because of their youth, do dumb things — and instead gone with the No Tolerance system.

And in that world, there’s no room for common sense, or individually tailored punishments that actually fit the crimes. In that world, bringing a squirt gun to school is very nearly as horrible a crime as bringing a locked-and-loaded firearm.

These zero-tolerance policies benefit administrators, who can cover their legal butts by pointing to paper rules that are rigidly enforced. But students? They’re left in the cold, along with their parents — and in many cases, along with their dreams for sports scholarships, Ivy League college acceptances and otherwise stellar high school records.

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