2008-01-03 / Letters

It's time for action against absurd policies in public education

Every once in a while we're all confronted with an episode that we know should never have occurred and requires our attention to ensure it doesn't occur again. The behavior of Conejo Valley Unified School District regarding our son and other young students caught up in similar situations cannot be allowed to continue.

When an 11-year-old Boy Scout is expelled and written an arrest citation for accidentally leaving a small pocketknife in his backpack, something is astray.

This is but one of the many kinds of nonviolent cases that our district has completely overreacted to. One only needs to read the papers.

Although our son is doing well, we're determined to end this sort of behavior. The district's response will be silence, but we believe the public is listening.

The Zero Tolerance program was created to ensure that administrators take action and react to violence and weapons on school campuses, not overreact. It's one thing to discipline a student accordingly; it is another to swat a fly with a sledgehammer.

Not only was a well-behaved GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) student expelled for an honest mishap, his life was turned upside down over the matter. To be blunt, if it's happened to our child, it can and already has happened to others.

When school and district officials openly state they would like to use more appropriate means to discipline our students but choose not to due to the fear of any perceived lawsuits, what's guiding district policies? Fear of potential lawsuits or the best interests of our children?

When school officials are encouraged to make inept decisions and constantly hide behind the same excuse, something is wrong, and our board must take action.

The wonderful thing about this country is we can do something about it.

This is an election year. For one, we need to remind our local state representatives, Tom McClintock and Audra Strickland, that this issue needs their attention.

If the state of Texas took action in 2005 with HB603 to adjust their Zero Tolerance policies to ensure school officials make appropriate decisions, so can we.

How many young sons and daughters need to be victimized by laws and policies that don't include the most fundamental protections, such as "intent," "selfdefense" and "prior disciplinary history," before action is taken?

Second, two Conejo district board member seats are up for reelection. While Dolores Didio and Dorothy Beaubien have served with distinction for many years, it's time to give fresh faces with new ideas a chance to govern this district and its administrators. Dan Goldberg Thousand Oaks

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