March 25, 2009

Zero Tolerance Policy


My sons’ preschool has a zero tolerance policy regarding weapons. The school also has a similar policy for open-toed shoes, gum, and low-grade fevers.


My sons memorized the rules in September and recite them on the way to school each morning. Kellen in particular is very diligent about minding his P’s and Q’s at school and thus, was understandably upset when he was forbidden from taking his show-and-tell item out of his school bag.


“I brought a weapon!” he cried.


I snatched my son’s school bag and frantically dug through it, looking for a butcher knife or bazooka. All I found was a retractable light saber.


“This?” I asked incredulously, holding it up. It had never crossed my mind that a plastic fluorescent phallus would be included on the list of banned items.


My son acted like I threw a live grenade into a crowd.


“PUT THAT AWAY!” he screamed, shoving the toy back into his bag.


“Do you want a piece of gum?” I asked, once we were in the car.


Kellen waited until we were out of the preschool parking lot before accepting the illegal substance.


***

Has your little one ever been busted for contraband? What? When? How?


52 comments

amy m said...

My children (ages 2 and 6 months) have not yet been caught with anything day care seems to think is off limits BUT the zero tollerance policy on low grade fevers really gets on my nerves. My 2 year old runs hot, so everytime she gets a runny nose, she gets a 101 fever...just high enough for me to get the call that she needs to go home early and not return the next day. Of course, she is in a great mood, has no fever, and plays great all day while she is home. I, as a public school teacher, can not easily run out the door when they call. I need to find coverage for my class which is not an easy task. I also can not work from home the next day. Thank God for generous sick days because I need them ALL this year. And twice my 6 month old (who has only been in day care 3 months) has been sent home with a 101 under-the-arm temp only to get to the Dr or home and no longer have a fever! Frustrating! I now carry a rectal thermometer in my purse to prove he doesn't have a temp and can in fact go back to school the next day! I know they are just trying to keep everyone healthy but they are too strict about it with some kids that just run hot. Why am I paying them hundreds of $$ a week to stay home with them when they are not even sick?

Likes Chocolate said...

Yes, in Kindergarten my son made a gun out of the manipulatives they use for math class. I got a call from the school how this was not acceptable and that I needed to talk to my son. That they have to take this very serious. No tolerance! That the next time he did this he would be kicked out of school. I was almost in tears trying to explain that we had no guns in our house not even water guns and that my children were not even allowed to watch that kind of programing on the tv. So dumb! I understand in this day an age that you can not assume that children in elementary school are innocent; however, psychology has shown that little boys of this age group will make anything into a gun.

Viv said...

We have a 'gun' ban in our home as well. My children just make them out of legos. I have given up stressing over this.

I would not have reacted well to the decision that a light saber was a weapon. I would probably send in a note explaining the difference between fantasy and reality to my child's teacher.

Reese said...

My son got sent to the principal's office for pretending a piece of mulch was a knife and then chasing a girl around the playground. (Right after some attack on a school had been all over the news) At the time, it was a very BIG deal and my parenting skills were called into question. He had to make a big apology and will never forget it.

Carrie said...

My 8 year old was busted for drawing a stick guy doing target practice with a bow and arrow in his homework notebook. I thought it was a little extreme but I don't make the rules.

Julie said...

We had a zero gun policy at our house...with the first boy...then came boy # 2 and finally my fourth child boy #3. They make everything into guns. My youngest has said...we can't make blocks into guns at school.
I would not have been happy with the light saber incident either. I mean really tell me a real life person that has ever been killed with a light saber. Gee whiz.

Texas Dimons said...

I think that too many teachers and administrators have stopped using their heads when it comes to the whole zero tolerance thing! (I can say this because I am a teacher!) I might have had the reality vs fantasy talk with the teacher too! Love your blog BTW! It gives me much needed laughs and helps me realize that I am in a sisterhood of mean moms!!

Jennifer said...

"Killing by Lightsaber" Nope, can't say I've seen that on the news. Give me a break. My son AND daughter makes everything into guns or weapons. They're kids, it happens. As long as the gun's not point blank in someone's face, I'm good. I'm glad I homeschool, so I don't have to deal with that.

HW said...

While working in the concession stand recently one of the freshman boys gave me his pocket knife to open a box. Later I handed it across the counter to some girls and said "Find Zach in the bleachers, please, and give this back to him."
The superintendent was standing there and saw me give a knife to two high school students.
I just dare them to fire me....

4 BOYS ONLY said...

Seriously! When one of my 4 boys was in public preschool, He was reprimanded and then I was called in, for hugging another student. I was told this is consider "sexual Harassment" and needs to be taken seriously! I was horrified. I had to then constantly be on him about "personal space" and "not touching" another person. How sad. I also had an older one sent to the principals office for having Infant Tylenol in his bag. he was in 4th grade and ummm, his mother had left it there after a hiking trip. ZERO TOLERANCE! I was told how lucky i was that he was not expelled. We homeschool now...too many heated arguments with the principal.

Ilana said...

"a plastic fluorescent phallus"

LOL! Maybe it was the phallic-ness, rather than the violence, that the school objected to.

Alison said...

Oh, good grief! So far no incidents with my kids (but only my girls are in school so far) but I am a former public school pre-school teacher. They had the weapons policy, too, but I REFUSED to freak out when kids pretended a block was a weapon, etc. This is part of normal childbood development. I have no doubt that that studies will show that the next generation of students will NOT be kinder and gentler simply because their schools had a zero tolerance for weapons policy! (To me, unless it is an ACTUAL knife or gun, stop over-reacting!)

Once, though, my little brother brought in a pair of "toy" handcuffs for show and tell and handcuffed another kid to his desk, then realized he had lost the key. They couldn't get him free and ended up having to call the police to come free the kid! (I think the school may have adopted a zero tolerance for handcuffs policy after that)!

Elizabeth said...

My son got in trouble in preschool for making the finger gun at other kids and say "pew, pew". He also got in trouble in kindergarten for accepting the gift of a 3 in long black plastic machine gun from another boy.
If you tell my 3 yr old girl that she is getting a shot (vaccine), she will make the gun finger and say "pew pew".
It is VERY hard to explain why this is a problem at school, just seems like a normal part of the kid lifestyle. We always played "war" during the 4th of July fireworks, grabbing our chests and dying on the beach with the loud explosions.

purplepogo said...

My Kindergarten son was suspended for throwing a snowball. KINDERGARTEN! When he was talked to about it upon return and asked what would he do if it happened that someone threw one at him again he said "Throw one back". A weapon of sorts... but come on, I think we have gotten a little over reactive, or I am raising Jeffrey Dahmer. YIKES!

Melanie said...

We honestly got held up entering a cruise once because of a plastic light saber. We promised them that it really didn't work and that we would not be killing anyone with laser light, but it took like 10 minutes of convincing this guy that no one could be harmed by it. Ah ha ha. Thanks for bringing back that awesome memory.

Carrie said...

You are hilarious. I'm new to your blog, but check it daily now! (Found you on Cjane) LOVE LOVE LOVE your evil ways. Thanks for making me laugh.

Anonymous said...

these are all great reasons that re-enforce my decision to homeschool my children. my boys were making guns out of legos before they could walk without having ever seen one that i knew about! that's what boys do!

Maree said...

Yeah, I'm with the majority here--never heard of an actual HUMAN death from light saber. And I do think that schools get a little bit over the top.

Kid #1 is a severe asthmatic and had Dr. permission to carry an inhaler in his backpack when he started school. Got that taken away when the nurse called him in to see if he really knew how/when to take it. Because she asked what he'd do if one of his friends was having trouble breathing--and his response was "I'd share my inhaler, of course." Yes, I see how that could be dangerous--we'd never encountered that scenario before.

Kid #2 is BOY crazy--and only in Kindergarten. Apparently, CONSTANTLY touching a cute boy's hair, holding his hand at every opportunity, and KISSING him is a bad thing at school--ya think? I'm scared for her teen years if she's this boy crazy now!

Kath said...

Sadly, yes. Last year my 8-year old had sold 35 Scout-O-Rama tickets and earned himself a shiny new pocket knife. We pressed upon him the rules of pocket knives, #1 being "Absolutely DON'T take it to school." The next morning about a half an hour after school started we got a call from the school saying that he had been suspended because, you guessed it, he brought the knife to school! He was suspended for 3 days! The principle was really sweet, though, and didn't make him feel like a bad kid, just let him know that he couldn't bring dangerous things like that to school because an accident could happen or maybe someone bad would take it from him.
He was very upset about it but learned his lesson.
We frequently do pat-downs before school now.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Makayla said...

That is incredibly stupid. I think we (as a society) should focus more on teaching kindness, respect, and safety than being paranoid about plastic light sabers. We're focusing on the wrong aspect of the issue. :S

Malea said...

Did you just call a light saber a plastis phallus? I will never, ever, ever, not think that when the kids get out the battle gear.

Carmen said...

OMG! That's so lame! The preschool at my husband's workplace put out a no-no list for "violent and overly scary" halloween costumes. Batman, Superman, Buzz Lightyear, Cowboys, skeletons,witches, Spiderman, ghosts... you name it. Everything cool was on the list. AND it was 90% stuff that boys would wear.

Thank goodness my kid doesn't go there:)

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Why on earth do they bann open toe shoes? Can they be dangerous in a way I can´t understand? :-)
Christer.

Jennifer said...

Wow. Reading these makes me wonder what will happen when my kids go to school. Connie has recently discovered the fun of guns and even before that thanks to the movie "A Bugs Life" loves to play dead - "die, die, die". Bina is totally affectionate with every person she meets, especially other kids. Even with attempts to teach her personal space, she's a lover. I can understand the policy but i think more focus should be given as to why it's not acceptable at the school without suspending a child. There are better ways to handle it then giving the child a free day from school. Especially a kindergartner, who'll forget the minute he wakes up why he doesn't have to go to school.
I love your blog btw I found it through Mormon Mommy

The Metcalf Five said...

My child, when he was in the 3rd grade, came home upset.
"mom, I said a bad word today and got detention"
"what did you say?"
"I don't want to tell you cause you might get mad."
I promised not to get mad. I just wanted to dicuss why we don't use certain words.
"mom, I said.........Hottie"
WHAT??!! My child got a recess taken away cause he had said the word hottie. Lame. I told him that wasn't a bad word but if his teacher was going to take issue with it not to say it again. Come on people....I think we have taken PC to a ridiculous level.
BTW, new to you blog and loving it!!!:)

templework said...

Dear Cottage - the open toed shoes ban really is a safety issue...not to mention how can a child actively participate in sports activities of any kind in sandals or such???
Toes look and function much better with their toenails intact and unstubbed - not to mention the one that got caught in the door and had to sewed back on ... oh yes!

Melinda said...

While I TOTALLY agree that schools/daycares go overboard on the no tolerance thing, I also have to say that its for a reason. I suppose if they let one kid have a light saber (so dumb though), then another kids would bring a stick and say "he got to bring a light saber!" A lot of the no tolerance is because if you give anyone an inch they walk all over. I sound like the jerk here, but hey I work at a daycare so I know how it goes on the other side as well. :( Not always fun to be the bad guy either. The low grade fever thing really touches on my nerves, your child isn't the only child there, so when there's a fever there's usually a problem and can protentially cause twenty other kids to be sick. Plus that isn't the daycare's policy it's state licensing. So don't get mad at the daycare, its to protect you and other kids and can put the daycare out of business if they don't follow the rule.

Man, like I said hate to be opposite on this one, since I adore your blog, just had to throw that out there. Sorry. (Honestly, I think the light saber thing is so stupid, I guess I'm being the devil's advocate today huh?) :)

Rachel said...

hahah, retractable phallus!

my kiddo is too young for weapons, but do you count giant green boogies at a playdate as a weapon? i think its the contagious crap they should be more worried about.

The Mother said...

Coincidence? I just posted a rant on the Zero Tolerance policy.

Mine involves a school nurse who refuses to give Advil to my son when he has a headache, and permission to receive it.

It's just stupid. This is HIGH SCHOOL. In a year or two, they're out on their own. And we don't trust them to take Advil?

Plastic phalli, though. Very dangerous.

babs said...

only snacks that he wont give up. but he like other toddlers have it in his genes to make anything into a gun.
I allow it but tell him he cant aim it at people or animals, only targets. however, after a day with his aunt & uncle he was very confused. He told me that his aunt calls a bent over hiney a "target" and then gets pinched.

"but mom! i was aiming at the dog's target!"

babs said...

oh, I forgot about the time daycare said my 8 month old was saying the "F" word and might need to stay home to correct the "problem" if it continued.

To that I said "What the F ever!".

Anonymous said...

We were very concerned when our son started school because he was going through an Army phase. The problem wasn't with actual weapons, but with his frighteningly realistic ability to mimic picking off the other children from the top of the playground equipment with an imaginary rifle. Or the time he and a friend crawled through the grass like snipers. It seems my fears were unwarranted because we have never received a concerned phone call.

Hagan Wagon said...

Thanks- that was a fabulous post! My daughter just came up with a new weapon the other day- she tried to kill a fly with a My Little Pony. Who knew how dangerous "Pinkie Pie" actually is?

Home daycare provider said...

Amy, I am a home daycare provider, and I would like to shed some light on the fever policy. It never fails that when one child gets sick they all end up with it, so you may only have to spend 1-2 days tending to your sick child, but I have to deal with it for at least a week if not longer, and that's if my own children dont end up getting it. If they do then it has to cycle around our family too, and it seems that no matter how much lysol I use (I should take stock in it!) it still makes it rounds, THEN when it's finally over, guess what the cycle starts over and someone else gets sick with something else. It's a never ending cycle. So as providers we want to limit the amount of illness that gets spread from family to family. And I definately want to make sure I dont come down with anything because heaven forbid I take a day off!! So Amy give your daycare provider(s) a break they work just as hard as you do and for probably a third of what you make.

Anonymous said...

A boy I nannied for made his fingers into a gun! What are they going to do? Tell him he has to leave his hand at home?!?!?!?

Vanessa said...

My son's contraband - a peanut butter and honey sandwich. After 3 weeks of preschool (every day of which he had a pb sandwich) I got a call from his teacher saying that they have a very strict "no nuts" policy. Apparently a child in the other preschool room/class has an allergy. So they basically put my son in quarantine to finish his lunch. Now I have no idea what to feed the kid for lunch! The only way we even got him to eat bread in the first place was by putting peanut butter on it. But I guess its better to be safe than have someone go into anaphylactic shock.

Melissa M. said...

light sabers are only weapons long ago in a galaxy far far away.
You should take this matter up with star command or something.

Viv said...

I just have to say to Hagan Wagon that for 8 years my daughter was the only girl, and she is a very girly girl, something I really have trouble identifying with. She has had a huge stuffed Pinkie Pie for 6 years now, and until I read your comment, I thought she named that pony.

I am laughing hard at myself...thank you.

Anonymous said...

A child getting onto the school bus that my friend drives found a dildo at the bus stop and started shooting other kids with it. I went from being horrified to laughing hystercally and back to horrified when she didnt take it away from him and drench him with sanitizer,but told him to go show his teacher his new "toy".Phallic weapon indeed!

Mama Lou said...

Our preschool has a similar no weapons policy. Of course the boys constantly make mini guns out of pieces of bark.... kind of like fighting gravity. My son knows the rules but on one occasion was busted for bringing a small GI Joe sized gun to school. He ratted himself out by asking the teachers for his gun when I picked him up. Come to find out later, the gun was another boys. So really this no weapons rule is just a means to turn boys into thieves.

Lisa said...

I've got one for you. . .my 1st grader was suspended from school last year for having TOENAIL CLIPPERS in his backpack. The official school district paperwork that I had to sign had a box checked with: 'in pocession of knife, firearm or explosive device'

Audrey Hammer said...

I took my kids to the zoo to find out that roller sneakers are not allowed there. I hadn't thought about it when my 9-year-old put them on. We looked at the gift shop for sandals or something, but they only had extra large men's sizes. So he spent the visit in just socks.

Cami said...

While digging through my youngest son's "church" bag on the way to church recently, I confinscated ductape and a pair of handcuffs....?????!!!!! :) Don't even want to know!

Jan Russell said...

Once, at preschool, my son stayed for lunch bunch and was not permitted to eat the "candy" in his bag. "WHAT candy?" I wanted to know. Turns out it was his FRUIT snack - sheesh, it's a wonder we haven't gotten that BMI letter from the nurse yet considering he eats a pack of gummies or more a day.

Angi Snyder said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks light sabers are phallus like. School hasn't been a big problem for the weapons, however we have to have "the talk" everytime we go on vacation about what they can and can't carry on the airplane, and why yelling "I'm going to kill/shoot/stab you" is not appropriate conversation anywhere on the plane or in the airport.

Ashiralynn said...

A plastic light saber is a weapon? Are you kidding me? I know you're not, but wow, what have we become?

Mostly Jenine said...

Jana. I am Mostly Jenine. I actually got the white glove treatment - the call from the PRINCIPAL saying my tender Kinder had brought a weapon, and that she was considering suspension. I too, gasped - we have guns and knives and sharp arrows. Her weapon of choice? A sparkly, shiny NUT PICK that I had used that morning to pick the lock in her room (not just for nuts!). I negotiated and agreed to be the PTO treasurer for 2 years so we got a by. Thank goodness she wasn't a FIRST GRADER, because then suspension would be mandatory.

Keep the PTO officer thing in mind for future weapon incidents.

barnaclebutt said...

Yep. I left dad in charge for a three day weekend when I went to visit my parents. When I got home and perused the pile of papers on the kitchen counter I was appalled to find a letter from my son's preschool teacher reminding me that weapons are not okay to send in the "sharing bucket." Duh! When I asked my son about it he said dad had folded up his leggo sword and stuffed it in the bucket; he teared up when he told me he hadn't been able to share it.

Perhaps even better was when my husband sent his collection of old cassett tapes to school with our
4th grade daughter for her class "treasure swap." It was super fun to get the call from the school asking me to come pick them up--he'd sent the Greatful Dead and the Sex Pistols in the mix.

Anonymous said...

They didn't get in trouble for this, but on the topic of guns... one palm sunday at church a group of boys (including mine) pretended that the palm leaf crosses were guns and they were shooting at each other. I'm pretty sure anything can be a gun!

My 4 year old almost took his green lightsaber in for show in tell on green day... wonder what would have happened????

NOBODY said...

This post made me cry. That hasn't happened in well over a year. I couldn't even get through it to finish reading to my husband. "out of town for five minutes" and writing on the front and back, did me in.

My son's (Kindergarten) school has a "zero tolerance policy" on any kind of physical contact. Only, he's been kicked (once in the face) by the same kid, three times. (a classmate who he likes, but has impulse control problems.) I don't care so much about my 5 year old getting kicked, he's a boy, he'll live, whatever. Only the last time, an aid was sure my son had instigated the kick by kicking first, and he spent lunch and recess in detention.

Five years old.

I may or may not have told the principal during my tirade, in response to his repetition of their "zero tolerance policy for physical contact of any kind"
"Do you even realize how moronic you sound when you say that in reference to FIVE YEAR OLD BOYS!?"

The phrase "zero tolerance policy" kind of still makes my blood boil.

Haley @ House On The Hill said...

My son and his friend got in school suspension for talking about a movie they had both seen in which a computer blew up. A teacher over reacted and reported then for talking about bombs. They were only 7 at the time...