In many schools, zero tolerance discipline policies dictate harsh punishment—expulsion, suspension and arrest—for breaking rules.
But, as StateImpact Florida has been reporting, some districts are reconsidering zero tolerance over concerns about a rise in the number of children arrested on campus.
One of those districts walking away from zero tolerance is in Broward County, where the schools formed a unique coalition with law enforcement, local and state courts, and the NAACP to re-write the school codes.
StateImpact Florida spoke with one of the members of that partnership—Gordon Weekes, chief assistant public defender with Broward County’s juvenile justice division—who has been a critic of zero tolerance in the past.
You can listen to the conversation here:
As a result of the working group on zero tolerance policies, Broward has developed an initiative called the PROMISE Program (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports and Education). Children who have committed minor, nonviolent misconduct—that might have gotten them suspended or arrested under zero tolerance rules—will be diverted into counseling and support services through PROMISE.
The new school code of conduct now contains a detailed discipline matrix that is designed to help educators and school resource officers decide how a misbehaving child should be handled.
You can see the matrix in detail here: