The Zero Tolerance Policy : A New Principal At Howard L. Jones High School

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As a new principal at Howard L. Jones High School, I have many challenges facing me on my first day. Jones High School uses the zero tolerance policy when it comes to discipline, and that policy can create a lot of tension among stakeholders. My school is diverse, and that in itself is new to this school. The first problem I am facing is our district’s drug policy and the young lady that was sent to the office because of a mysterious pill that was found in her possession that supposedly is for allergies. My second challenge is our district policy on weapons and the young man that is in the office with a sharpened file. Lastly, my third issue is the policy of disciplining students with a disability, in the same manner as nondisabled students. Many wonder about the beginnings of zero tolerance. The zero tolerance policies started showing up in schools across America in the 1980s when President Ronald Reagan, and his fight against a war on drugs, coined the term “zero tolerance” (Fantz, 2015). The thought was that zero tolerance would make our schools safer and it would curb the drug and violence problems facing schools. There are reasons why individuals have a positive feeling about zero tolerance. First of all, many people feel that zero tolerance prepares students for real life, meaning if you break the law or a rule of society, there is a consequence regardless of the excuse you may use to why you broke the rule. The second advantage to zero policy, and perhaps the biggest, was the thought that zero tolerance creates a safe learning environment. When students know that there is a serious discipline for an infraction, they are more likely to follow the rules. Another positive of zero tolerance is it removes favoritism from the e... ... middle of paper ... ... are more than three times as likely to be suspended or expelled (Ward, 2014). My school is in the process of becoming more diverse, so is the message I want to send to my students and their parents? My goal as a new principal would be to meet with other administrators around the district and get their opinions and perspectives on zero tolerance. I would point out to my colleagues that the statistics on zero tolerance tell the story. The student body at Apex High School in North Carolina is approximately 74% white, yet according to the Department of Education’s Civil Rights data collection, the percentage of black students receiving in-school suspensions is ten times the percentage of white students (Ward, 2014). As principal of Howard L. Jones High School, I want a positive culture and do right by the students and zero tolerance will not allow that to happen.

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