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Florida schools and the zero-tolerance policy

When your child goes to school, it's important that he or she is protected and feels safe. It's Florida's law that your child has to be protected by the district and that you and your child retain certain rights in regards to his or her education. For instance, if your child gets into trouble, you're allowed to have a review of what happened and are allowed to be given information on what happened along with the penalties.

Florida has a policy of zero tolerance for crime and victimization in schools. Schools are supposed to be safe learning environments where children can go to learn without fearing their peers or teachers. It is the law that each district has to adopt a policy of zero tolerance.

What should that policy indicate?

The policy should define which kinds of acts pose a serious threat to school safety, define petty acts of misconduct, and define the criteria for reporting to a law enforcement agency when necessary.

What should schools do to prevent victimization?

The school also needs to determine ways to minimize victimization of staff members, students and volunteers. This includes detailed information on how to protect victims of violent crimes from further trouble in the school district.

What if a parent or student doesn't agree with a penalty?

The district should come up with a way for students to request a review about disciplinary actions that have been imposed upon them. If a student is found to have brought a firearm or weapon to school or to have made a threat or false report, Florida law requires that the student is expelled with or without continuing educational services. The penalty should last at least one regular school year and require that the youth be referred to the juvenile justice system. If your child is accused of that behavior, then it's possible to request more information on what happened and to review the situation with the school with your attorney present.

Source: Online Sunshine, "The 2016 Florida Statutes," accessed Nov. 07, 2016

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