3/25/2014

Florida senate committee today hears bill to protect children from zero tolerance hysteria

Given the large majority by which this law passed Florida's House, the question is why this law hasn't been passed in other states.  From the Washington Times:
. . . Over the past year, schools have increasingly punished children for playing games that involve pretend firearms. Now Florida is leading the nation in stopping this madness. 
On Tuesday, the Florida Senate will hold a committee hearing on legislation that has become known as the “Pop Tart bill.” 
The legislation got its nickname from an incident involving Josh Welch, a 7-year-old Maryland boy who was suspended from school in March 2013 for chewing his strawberry Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. 
The Florida bill makes it clear that children in public schools will be allowed to simulate firearms while playing without risk of disciplinary action or being referred to the criminal or juvenile justice system. 
The Florida House passed the companion bill Thursday by an overwhelming vote of 98-17. Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s spokeswomanJackie Schutz told me, “The governor supports the Second Amendment and our state’s self-defense law and will review any bill that comes to his desk.” 
“Children should not be punished because some adult lacks common sense or the capacity for rational judgment,” said Marion Hammer, a former president of the National Rifle Association and the current head of its Florida lobbying operation. . . . .
Some in Florida claim that the bill is an overreaction.  From the Editorial page of the Tampa Tribune:
Gun rights are a conservative value, but adopting laws for nonexistent problems, which the Pop-Tart bill does, is a liberal tactic. 
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, and Sen. Greg Evers, a Pensacola Republican, is a hysterical reaction to an incident in Maryland last year where a 7-year-old boy was suspended from school for chewing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun. . . . 
Here are just a few cases from March 2013 on available here.  The problem is that public schools have been using zero tolerance approaches to traumatize children about guns.

Florida has had its own cases.  From October, 2013 in Fox News:
An 8-year-old Florida boy was suspended from school after using his finger as a pretend gun while playing cops and robbers with his friends. 
Jordan Bennett was suspended for a day after administrators at Harmony Community School in Harmony, Fla., said the gesture was an act of violence, WFTV.com reported.
His mother, Bonnie, told the station she's concerned that her son may labeled violent with a suspension now on his academic record. 
"He had nothing in his hand. It was a finger gun, a pretend gun," Bonnie Bennett said. "He didn't threaten violence. He didn't utter words that were inappropriate. He made a sound and used his fingers and that was it." 
School district officials told the station its code of conduct prohibits students from playing with invisible guns. Bonnie Bennett believes there are more effective ways the district could have disciplined her son. . . .
Zero tolerance has also destroyed other lives in Florida even if it wasn't involving a gun.  From May 2013 in the New Miami News:
Kiera Wilmot got good grades and had a perfect behavior record. She wasn't the kind of kid you'd expect to find hauled away in handcuffs and expelled from school, but that's exactly what happened after an attempt at a science project went horribly wrong. 
On 7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed some common household chemicals in a small 8 oz water bottle on the grounds of Bartow High School in Bartow, Florida. The reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke. No one was hurt and no damage was caused. 
According to WTSP, Wilmot told police that she was merely conducting a science experiment. Though her teachers knew nothing of the specific project, her principal seems to agree. . . . 
After the explosion Wilmot was taken into custody by a school resources officer and charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult. 
She was then taken to a juvenile assessment center. She was also expelled from school and will be forced to complete her diploma through an expulsion program. . . .

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