Texas Zero Tolerance
Texas Zero Tolerance
© 2012 Texas Zero Tolerance
All Rights Reserved
The strictest law sometimes becomes the severest injustice - Benjamin Franklin

When our children in Texas public schools can be accused, found guilty, ticketed, often times arrested and removed from school before parents are notified, then there is something intrinsically wrong with a system that claims to work in partnership with parents for the education and wellbeing of our children.
What a child should and should not do - Do not let your child speak to police before you are contacted and other suggestions to make to your children before you send them to school
Passing the paddle to law enforcement - In many schools the discipline management system established to teach students discipline under school authority has nearly become extinct, replaced by Municipal and Justice of the Peace courts
Update for 2012...



The ACLU of Texas Youth Rights Campaign seeks to end the current disciplinary system that funnels children out of the classroom and into the criminal justice system. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out. Punitive laws have criminalized minor infractions of school rules, while high-stakes testing programs encourage educators to push out low-performing students to improve their schools' overall test scores. We’re promoting policies that ensure students are educated, not incarcerated.

Interested in getting involved? Learn more at www.educatedontincarcerate.org and contact gwilliams@aclutx.org, 713-942-8146, extension 114.

Follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youthrightstx and Twitter www.twitter.com/youthrightstx

Tell us your story: If you have been impacted by zero tolerance and school disciplinary issues and would like to share your story, contact gwilliams@aclutx.org, 713-942-8146, extension 114.


___________________________


TZT In The News...

Our view on school discipline: Common sense makes a comeback in classrooms- USA Today

Schools' zero-tolerance policies tested - USA Today

Schools' zero tolerance policies short on common sense - The Dallas Morning News

Texas Eases 'Zero Tolerance' Laws - Time Magazine

Schools becoming more 'tolerant' as 'zero tolerance' rules end - The Dallas Morning News

Who’s With Us


Would your group like to be added to the list?


Who’s Against Us

  • Various Texas Teachers Unions

Open Letter to those groups against disciplinary reform


___________________________


Our Solutions

  • Immediate parental contact concerning any incident that could involve removal from school and/or criminal prosecution. Parents have the right to be present prior to the child speaking to administrators and/or police.

  • 48-hour cooling off period before a criminal citation may be issued unless the incident constitutes an immediate and continuous threat to the safety of the school.

  • An appeals process that allows parents/guardians the right to appeal any suspension, removal to a disciplinary alternative education program, or expulsion regardless of whether mandatory or not, with the school board or governing authority of that public school the final arbiter.

  • Students will have the opportunity to turn in prohibited items without fear of immediate punishment. A parent/guardian conference will have to take place prior to punishment and/or criminal prosecution. The exception would be in the case of an immediate and continuing threat to the safety of the school environment.



Texas Zero Tolerance is no longer an active organization.

We’ve been in existence since October, 2003. During our stint, we’ve helped to change the Texas Education Code to mandate that school districts take into account extenuating circumstances when deciding the culpability of students accused of disciplinary infractions. There is still a lot more to be done. Most reforms can take place at the local school board level. In parting, we encourage parents to learn as much as they can about their district’s disciplinary policies and push board members to adhere to the education codes as well as to enact TZT’s stated goals of immediate parental notification and a transparent appeals process that answers directly to the school boards.

Many of our public schools operate in a quasi-police state atmosphere. Change can only happen with future parental involvement. If you, as parents, do not become engaged with your schools and the oversight of your school district then you have sent a signal to educators that they can do as they please. Education in Texas and in the United States has evolved into everything but the primary goal of stewardship of our most precious resource: our children. If no one steps forward to carry the torch of reform, education will never improve and the “professional” administrators will continue to abuse our children.

The TZT website will remain as a resource into the indefinite future.

We thank everyone who has given us support and provided countless hours of unselfish dedication to improve the disciplinarian system in Texas. We’ve done very well but there is so much more to be done.

We also ask that you consider telling your story to the ACLU of Texas Youth Rights Campaign (right column). It is our hope that they will now carry the torch of reform.

Thank you all.

___________________________


The War on Kids is an award winning documentary detailing zero tolerance in America's schools and how out of control our public schools really are. We encourage you to support the documentary by making a purchase. We give it an A+...

___________________________

New - in Student's Corner, Amanda Toohey explores the zero tolerance disciplinary policies in public schools and the warehousing of students in the school-to-prison pipeline.

___________________________


A special thanks to Texas State Representative Dora Olivo

Unfortunately Rep. Olivo lost her battle in the primary. We have all the respect for her in the world and wish her well. None of the reforms we have realized to date would have happened without her tireless efforts. She has been the protector of the voiceless and she will be missed. God speed Rep. Olivo and thank you so much for your unfailing support since 2003.

Why Texas Zero Tolerance is Needed

As parents of children in the Texas public school system, we are constantly reminded that we are partners in the education of our children.

Many parents in Texas do not realize that if their child is accused of a disciplinary infraction at their school, they can be brought into the school principal’s office, interrogated by school officials, interrogated by police, arrested and taken to jail before parents are notified. After all the dust has settled, you as a parent have few rights for an appeal. Once a citation is written, it cannot be taken back and your child will have to appear in court.

We ask that you take some time to explore our website - examine some of the examples of this abuse in our Reported Cases section and help us reform Chapter 37 (particularly § 37.001 - Student Code of Conduct)  of the Texas Education Code to allow due process and common sense back into our schools. The text of House Bill 171 (previous reform initiative) can be found here.

___________________________

When My Child is Disciplined at School - a parental guide provided by Texas Appleseed
___________________________

Threat Assessments to Manage Threatening Situations and Create Safer Schools - Catherine Toohey  M. Ed., Senior Emergency Management and School Security Consultant/Texas Association of School Boards, Loss Prevention
___________________________

The Texas Education Agency's Safe Schools Program recommends an alternative to zero tolerance - a MUST READ.
___________________________

Zeroing Out Zero Tolerance: Eliminating Zero Tolerance Policies in Texas Schools (Texas Tech Law Review) - thorough, careful and thoughtful research, the author makes the tremendous case against continuing zero tolerance disciplinary policies.
___________________________

Zero Tolerance - Zero Sense: Our Case for Reform
by Eddie Evans, Co-Director - Texas Zero Tolerance
__________________________

"We hold children to higher standards than we hold adults. We don't leave any room for children to make mistakes." ~ Billy Jacobs, former Senior Director of the Safe Schools Division of the Texas Education Agency

“There is no law authorizing an officer to interview a child on campus (except for investigations of child abuse or neglect). The school district can choose. It can permit interrogations, it can refuse to allow interrogations, or it can choose to allow interrogations only if the parent has first been contacted.” - TEA Staff Lawyer

__________________________

Texas Zero Tolerance Press Release (08/19/2009) - Reaction to
HB 171 Passage
__________________________


Typical cases we have received…

  • Disruption of peace and Class “C” Misdemeanors that have carried fines from $50 to $500 plus six-month probations for uttering a curse word – not to be confused with a child verbally abusing another student or teacher.

  • Possession of pocketknives, box cutters, mini souvenir bats result in prosecutions and sentences to JJAEP boot camps

  • Terroristic threats issued for having “hate lists” such as a child writing that they don’t like Michael Jackson, as example.

  • Innocent childhood pranks such as “mooning” or “pantsing” ending with sexual harassment charges and extended punishment in alternative education programs.

  • Students defending against attacks by other students charged with aggravated assault and extended punishments in alternative education programs.

There are many more – many that are complex cases – but in all, we believe that absolute power in the hands of school district administrators have absolutely corrupted common sense.
Confused by some of the terms used on this website? We have a new glossary that will help.