Districts rethinking 'zero-tolerance' policy in schools - Tucson News Now

Districts rethinking 'zero-tolerance' policy in schools

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

There is evidence that "zero-tolerance" policies at schools aren't working. Now administrators in some of the nation's largest districts are backing away from that approach.

Instead of pushing so-called troublemakers out, they're keeping them close.

The Phoenix Union School District is made up of 16 high schools and more than 27,000 students.

"Eighty percent of our students, their families are living at the poverty level. Those are sometimes indicators of crime. In our particular case, we want to change that story," Phoenix Union Schools spokesman Craig Pletenik said.

It seems the district is on the right track. In the last two years, there have been no expulsions.

"If a student is having problems, either getting in fights or talking back to the teacher or something even worse, we feel like we are the best resource to help them," Pletenik said.

Pletenik said Phoenix Union has never endorsed a zero-tolerance policy.

"We want to work with the kids. We don't want to throw them out on the street," Pletenik said.

Ten percent of the school's budget goes toward providing students with counseling and other support programs. That's double the money most districts put forward.

"We're really big on intervention programs, on mediation," Pletenik said.

Pletenik believes everyone makes mistakes and it's the school's hope that students learn from them and become good citizens.

"If you throw them out in the street, they are no longer the school's problem, they are the community's problem," Pletenik said.

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