New report blasts school zero tolerance policies

A new report criticizes the School District of Philadelphia’s Zero Tolerance program to prevent violence.  The authors believe the program is nothing but a pathway to a life behind bars.

The report, titled Denying Educational Opportunities and Creating a Pathway to Prison, says the School District is hurting children by strictly enforcing disciplinary policy.  Brandon Johnson told the story of how he was suspended for 10 days and sent to a disciplinary school for being caught carrying a butter knife to class.

“I attend school for only four and a half hours from 7:30 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. instead of eight hours like at my old school.  I am not getting the same quality education as I was before. When I get back to my old school I will be behind.”

Jim Freeman is an attorney for Advancement Project, whose group co-authored the report. “Zero Tolerance is a failed policy, it has not succeeded in making schools safer or more effective,” he said.

The School District issued a statement saying suspensions are down at the district and it is using alternative means to rehabilitate students.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.