Commentary

Don’t Students Ever Get Detention Anymore?

Florida has yet another example of extreme punishment for what seems a minor offense. Zero tolerance laws are like landing on the “Go Directly to Jail” square on the Monopoly board–except there is never a get out of jail free card. A 13-year-old student in Orange County, Fla., was suspended for 10 days and could be banned from school over an alleged assault with a rubber band, according to a WKMG Local 6 News report. Robert Gomez, a seventh-grader at Liberty Middle School, said he picked up a rubber band at school and slipped it on his wrist. Gomez said when his science teacher demanded the rubber band, the student said he tossed it on her desk. After the incident, Gomez received a 10-day suspension for threatening his teacher with what administrators say was a weapon, Local 6 News reported. “They said if he would have aimed it a little more and he would have gotten it closer to her face he would have hit her in the eye,” mother Jenette Rojas said. Rojas said she was shocked to learn that her son was being punished for a Level 4 offense — the highest Level at the school. Other violations that also receive level 4 punishment include arson, assault and battery, bomb threats and explosives, according to the Code of Student Conduct. Long gone are the days portrayed in the classic high school film, The Breakfast Club, where high schoolers spent Saturday in detention for much more serious offenses then tossing or even shooting a rubber band on to a teacher’s desk. Check out the picture at the link above, the rubber band looks very lightweight and not even substantial for a rubber band.

Lisa Snell is the director of education and child welfare at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.

Snell has frequently testified before the California State Legislature and numerous other state legislatures and government agencies. She has authored policy studies on school finance and weighted student funding, universal preschool, school violence, charter schools, and child advocacy centers.

Snell is a frequent contributor to Reason magazine, School Reform News and Privatization Watch. Her writing has also appeared in Education Week, Edutopia, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.

Ms. Snell is also an advisory board member to the National Quality Improvement Center for the Children's Bureau; is on the charter school accreditation team for the American Academy for Liberal Education; and serves as a board member for the California Virtual Academy.

Before joining Reason Foundation, Snell taught public speaking and argumentation courses at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a Master of Arts in communication from California State University, Fullerton.