'Reasonable School Discipline Act' introduced in Maryland
This month, 7-year-old Josh Welch, a second-grader at Park Elementary School in Baltimore was suspended from school for two days after biting his Pop-Tart pastry into the shape of a gun. This event is only one of the most recent in an escalating trend of overreactions on the part of school administrators following the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The second-grader, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), reportedly has a passion for his elementary school art classes and was attempting to sculpt his pastry into the shape of a mountain. However, a teacher noticed that the pastry resembled a firearm and reported the “incident.”
Since the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, administrators and teachers throughout the country have adopted a zero-tolerance discipline policy. This heightened sensitivity has been hailed as hysteria by pundits and commentators, and although the reactions of administrators may be understandable, they are neither reasonable nor just.
Following the incident, Sen. J. B. Jennings (R), who represents Baltimore and Harford Counties in Maryland, introduced Senate Bill 1058, “The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013.” This bill seeks to help reform disciplinary policy in Maryland schools, protecting students from further cruel and unusual punishment for simply “acting like kids”.
The proposed legislation, which focuses on protecting students’ free speech rights as they pertain to photographs, images, drawings and facsimiles of guns (providing that the aforementioned object obviously serves another purpose), will restructure the maximum punishment guidelines and limit each school’s right to suspend for this reason. If enacted, the legislation would take effect on July 1.
This post was written by Patrick Hoover, Esq.