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School Business Affairs


Zero-tolerance policies call for the consistent application of consequences for student offenses involving violence, bullying, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and weapons in school or at school-sponsored events. As educators struggled to eliminate student violence during the last 25 years, states adopted zero-tolerance statutes to address the rise of juvenile delinquency and the possession of weapons and drugs in schools.

Insofar as debates over zero-tolerance policies rage as violence, bullying, drugs, tobacco, and weapons in schools continue to be a major concern for educators, the remainder of this column is divided into three substantive sections. The first section briefly reviews arguments in favor of and against zero-tolerance policies; the next examines litigation that has involved such policies. The third offers recommendations for school business officials, their boards, and other education leaders to consider when reviewing their zero-tolerance policies. This section suggests that insofar as time may have expired on such an approach, educators would be wise to avoid strict zero-tolerance policies in favor of no-tolerance approaches that permit administrators to use their discretion in disciplining students.

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This document has been made available for download by permission of the publisher.

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 School Business Affairs magazine and is reprinted with permission of the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO). The text herein does not necessarily represent the views or policies of ASBO International, and use of this imprint does not imply any endorsement or recognition by ASBO International and its officers or affiliates. Any additional re-purposing or reprint of this article in this or any other medium is restricted without prior written consent.

Permission documentation is on file.


Association of School Business Officials





Place of Publication

Reston, VA



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