As students across Texas are being criminally charged for drawing on school property, some state leaders are taking notice. Now, the “zero tolerance policy” is wearing on the patience of a state senator and some parents.
Puppy Dogs, butterflies and hearts: They can all get your child charged with a state jail felony if they're written on school property. It's part of a statewide zero tolerance policy that mandates punishments regardless of the circumstances surrounding an incident. And now it's drawing criticism at the State Capitol.
"We had examples today of kids six year old getting a citation - 10 years old getting a ticket written for disrupting the class. I don't know what that accomplishers", says State Senator, John Whitmire.
Senator John Whitmire led a senate criminal justice committee meeting today in Austin, where a father testified to his personal story. His child was handcuffed and booked on criminal charges after being accused of drawing on a bathroom wall.
"Graffiti that would reflect gang activity is much more severe than some student drawing a heart for her boyfriend", says Whitmire.
A 12-year-old New York girl was cuffed and arrested after writing on her desk with an erasable marker earlier this year. She's now suing the city authorities for a million dollars. In March, an ECISD student was charged after marking a piece of lab equipment, considered school property.
"It should all depend on what they wrote on there. Schools should give them detention or a referral or something", says Odessan, David Leyva.
"Most of the bathroom stalls are filled up", says 8th grader, Ryan Garcia.
Senator Whitmire questions the “no exception” style policy.
"Some of the school districts are writing hundreds and thousands of tickets each year and I'm concerned that some of it may be about raising revenue, instead of protecting our classrooms", he says.
"I don't think it's fair at all, as far as kids not knowing the severity of the situation", says Odessan, Shawn Hale.
Whitmire isn't calling for a law change just yet, but he is hoping for a little discretion.
"I'm just calling for common sense, people to use good judgment".
Whitmire says another meeting at the Capitol will be scheduled to hear more testimony and further discuss this issue in the near future.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Prosecution for school graffiti critiqued at senate hearing
There's not much MSM news out there from yesterday's Senate Criminal Justice Committee meeting (see the archived broadcast), but Odessa TV station KOSA had coverage of one of its locals who came to Austin to speak with them about school discipline.