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 after 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’s Sammy Mack spoke with one of the members of that partnership — Gordon Weekes, a Broward County assistant public defender with the juvenile justice division — who has been a critic of zero tolerance in the past.
You can listen to their 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: