Juvenile Justice

Zero Tolerance Makes Zero Sense


Years of zero-tolerance polices have proven to be ineffective, unfair, and excessive and the federal government has finally taken notice.  Acknowledging that discrimination in school discipline is a problem, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice recently issued guidance to schools on the administration of discipline in a non-discriminatory manner.

The Ohio legislature is also examining zero-tolerance policies and taking a much-needed look at school discipline practices.  According to the Ohio Department of Education, over 210,000 students received out-of-school suspensions during the 2012-2013 school. Approximately 53,000 students were suspended for fighting, while 131,615 were suspended for disobedient or disruptive behavior.

Ohio Senate Bill 167 would eliminate zero-tolerance school policies for violent, disruptive, or inappropriate student behavior, including excessive truancy, and prohibits the adoption of such policies in the future. Instead, it requires each school district to create its own multi-factored policy to deal with incidents on a case-by-case basis. It also requires school boards to create alternative strategies for handling bullying and harassment, as well as other student behavioral issues.

The ACLU of Ohio is committed to challenging zero tolerance policies  that push children out of schools and into the justice system.

Read our testimony on S.B. 167

Read our blog post on the failure of zero tolerance in schools.