The unreasonable ‘Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013′

You won’t believe what a bill called “The Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013″ and introduced in the Maryland legislature is intended to accomplish. (Or maybe you will.)

My colleague Michael Rosenwald calls it a bill “to protect Pop-Tart guns.” Why? A 7-year-old in an Anne Arundel County school bit a Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun, apparently said, “Bang bang,” and was suspended.

The actual Senate Bill 1058 says:

FOR the purpose of prohibiting a principal from suspending or expelling a student who brings to school or possesses on school property a picture of a gun, a computer image of a gun, a facsimile of a gun, or any other object that resembles a gun but serves another purpose; prohibiting a principal from suspending or expelling a student who makes a hand shape or gesture resembling a gun; authorizing a principal to suspend or expel a student who  performs a certain action as a direct act of violence against another student on  school property; establishing the maximum discipline for a student in kindergarten through grade eight who performs a certain action; establishing the maximum discipline for a student in grades nine through twelve who performs a certain action; prohibiting a certain action from being recorded in a certain school record under certain circumstances; authorizing a parent or guardian of a certain student to appeal a certain suspension; establishing certain grounds for discipline of a principal, a vice principal, a teacher, or any other employee who violates a certain provision of law; defining certain terms;  and generally relating to the discipline of a student who brings certain objects or images of guns to school or makes a hand shape or gesture resembling a gun…

Punishments range from counseling to detention, though students can get suspended if they go beyond the outlines of the behavior described in the law.

Of course the school overreacted by suspending the 7-year-old boy for turning his Pop-Tart into a pretend gun, but do we really need a law to stop it from happening again?

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · March 12, 2013

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