Zero tolerance has become the latest contemporary educational issue for the Christian school leader. Zero tolerance policies mandate predetermined consequences for specific offenses. According to a government study, more than three quarters of all U.S. schools reported having zero tolerance policies (Holloway, 2002). Systematic guidelines of enforcing zero tolerance require educational leaders to impose a predetermined punishment, regardless of individual culpability or extenuating circumstances (Gorman & Pauken, 2003). Ethical decision making and the opportunity to apply Biblical principles have taken a back seat to reactive discipline by school leaders. Societal expectations have forced proactive educational leaders to become impulsive decision makers.
Zero tolerance is a policy that mandates predetermined and severe consequences for specific offenses in an attempt to consider all offenders equally (Fries & DeMitchell, 2007). Zero tolerance began as a Congressional initiative to control drugs, weapons, and violent behavior in the early 1980s and was well known across the country by 1988. It can be traced to the federal Gun Free Schools Act of 1994. The Gun Free Schools Act of 1994 requires states to have in effect a law mandating schools to suspend students for possessing a weapon on school grounds. Students violating this act are suspended for one school year and enter the juvenile justice system (Stader, 2004). The Gun Free Schools Act permits school superintendents to modify the expulsion requirement on a case by case basis allowing states to enact their own statutes. The zero tolerance policies in most states include the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994, as well as gang acti...
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