Pubdate: Sat, 24 Feb 2001
Source: Times Record News (TX)
Copyright: 2001 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Contact:  1301 Lamar, Wichita Falls, TX 76301
Fax: (940)767-1741
Author: Emily Pothast


This letter is in response to the article on zero tolerance in the 
"Our Opinions" column of the Times Record News, Feb. 16, 2001. I 
agree 100 percent with the assertion that zero tolerance policies 
unfairly ignore individual differences among cases and, for lack of a 
better analogy, force school administrators to throw the baby out 
with the bathwater.

The statement that I personally had a little difficulty swallowing 
was your claim that, "No doubt these rational, intellectual, highly 
trained individuals can quickly determine the intent of the student 
..." After I got up off the floor, being temporary paralyzed with 
laughter, I felt compelled to tell your readers what high school in 
this town was really like. The second semester of my senior year, two 
weeks before I was scheduled to take four AP tests for college 
credit, I was suspended from school for three days and faced being 
thrown into Denver, WFISD's answer to HBO's "Oz," on the evidence of 
two "marijuana seeds" found in my car. A high school administrator, 
who will go unnamed, performed some sort of litmus test to determine 
if it, in fact, contained THC. He told me, "This will turn red if it 
is in fact marijuana." The thing didn't change color, and he quickly 
hid it away, saying, "See, I told you. It turned red." The next week 
was an uphill legal battle between my family and WFISD, that 
triumphantly ended (thanks to the police department) in the 
conclusion that my seeds were not marijuana, but rather that of a 
common local weed that my sister had included in her plant collection 
for sixth grade science. (Zero tolerance for driving siblings to 
school, I guess.) The incompetent "rational intellectuals" had to 
give me a formal apology. Luckily I had a family that helped me get 
legal assistance and my problem was solved, but I'm sure that most 
parents in this town would not believe their children over the school 
district and would just spank them more or something.

My high school was full of wonderful, bright teachers (especially in 
the AP and pre-AP program) whom I will remember with fondness after I 
graduate from college summa cum laude. But unless the administration 
has changed drastically in the last four years, the "rational, 
intellectual, highly trained individuals" in power at, at least one 
local high school, don't have sense enough to run an ant farm, let 
alone be left in charge of the minds of tomorrow!

Emily Pothast
Wichita Falls
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