Zero Tolerance Is Literally For The Little People

In my own state of NC, we see that Zero Tolerance policies only apply to the Little People – the students. WRAL is reporting that an “employee” of Wayne county schools donned a black mask and carried a fake gun into a classroom as part of a “citizenship enrichment lesson”.

I’d like to know what the definition of “citizenship enrichment lesson” is at this school.  Is it a citizenship lesson similar to the recent one scrapping parts of the Constitution? Maybe a better awareness of one’s surroundings might be defending oneself against rape at school. Also, why WRAL is calling this person simply an “employee”? Last time I checked, people who worked in classrooms in schools were called Teachers. Maybe this person isn’t the actual teacher but an administrator or other position? We don’t know, the school won’t say.


Goldsboro, N.C. — Wayne County Public Schools officials said Wednesday that a school employee went a bit too far by entering a middle-school classroom wearing a ski mask and brandishing a toy gun as part of a lesson.

A sixth-grade class at Eastern Wayne Middle School had a citizenship “enrichment lesson” Friday on being observant of surroundings, and someone was supposed to walk into six classrooms, grab something off a desk in each and leave, district spokesman Ken Derksen said. The students would then discuss what they saw and how to respond.

“In this particular case, the staff member took it a little too far,” Derksen said. “I think this person just got a little too much into the part.”

A little too far? Terrorizing a class full of 6th graders with an “employee” wearing a mask and carrying toy gun is “a little too far”, but suspending a kid for eating a pastry into the shape of a gun or pretending you have a gun with your fingers while playing is an act worthy of suspension these days. Parents are seeing how this zero tolerance policy stuff works and how it’s only applied to the students.  One set of rules for the school and another set for the children of taxpayers who fund said school.  Nice.

The Principal Cathy Fulcher of the school dodged all questions, telling reporters to ask district officials about it. That official is Derkson, quoted above. More from WRAL:

Derksen said district officials are reviewing the incident, and the employee remains on the job. He wouldn’t say whether any disciplinary action was taken.

“It just comes down to, in all the things that have happened in recent years, it was just really insensitive to students’ concerns, and that’s where the issue lies,” he said.

No, the issue lies in the hypocrisy of Zero Tolerance application. What made this employee think this was OK in the first place as well as who gave the green light to this “citizenship enrichment lesson”.  Nice to see this “employee” remains unnamed and that there is no indication any action will be taken against them as they are still on the job.

ABC 11 has more including a picture of part of the letter, sent by Principal Fulcher. The ABC 11 article also notes the school as being Eastern Wayne Middle School.  A look at their “Rules and Expectations” takes us to a blank page that was “Last Modified on September 10, 2013”.   This screen capture was taken on October 17 at approximately 9:30 am EST:

The Wayne County School System Discipline code, however, is not blank and includes the zero tolerance policy which only applies to students.  I submit that teachers and “employees” of schools should be under the same set of zero tolerance rules as they impose on their students.

The Wayne County Student Handbook (LINK) has a signature page in the beginning that requires parents to acknowledge the contents. One has to wonder if teachers or “employees” have to sign a similar document? Page 8 lists the “Educator Commitments” which includes:

“We will provide a supportive school atmosphere where everyone feels emotionally, physically, and intellectually safe.”

UPDATE: Thank you to Carolina Plott Hound for linking!

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About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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2 Responses to Zero Tolerance Is Literally For The Little People

  1. Lauren says:

    This is not only for one state–it’s pretty much world wide. Children can be accused of “crimes” that adults would laugh at, they have no rights and their ability to defend themselves is nil. A lot of what happens at school would be considered assault if it happened to an adult, but no the perpetrators and the victims are children so they have no rights. If the perp is an adult and the victim is a child, usually nothing happens. If the perpetrator is a child, they throw the book at them.

    It’s sad, but there’s nothing to be done until “we the people” acknowledge that children are people too.


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