Pop Tarts and Zero Tolerance

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. Legislation inspired by a Maryland boy who was suspended from school for chewing his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun has cleared the Education Committee of the Florida House. Students can wear gun related shirts but they still can't threaten anyone.

A Maryland second-grader is the catalyst for Florida legislation after he chewed a pop tart into the shape of a gun. State Representative Dennis Baxley says his bill isn't about guns, but common sense. "And hopefully it will be good guidance that will be helpful to them as they build their school policies."

The legislation unanimously cleared the House Education Committee with no one testifying against it. Baxley says it will let kids be kids. "It's not hurting anybody, it's just kids being kids and being at school. Those things are not disruptive and we shouldn't overreact."

The legislation lists a host of items that kids can have or do and not be suspended.
"Among them, young kids will be able to point their finger and go 'bang' and not get suspended.

Others include using a pencil to simulate a gun, wearing gun related non-offensive clothing, building blocks shaped like a gun, a toy gun that's smaller than two inches, or drawing or having a picture of a gun.

School districts say there have been no instances of zero tolerance going too far in Florida, but the Marion Hammer of the NRA says otherwise. "A lot of parents don't want the publicity, don't want the embarrassment, and we've heard from folks who've had situations but said you can't tell my story..."

In the legislation, schools retain the ability to discipline students who disrupt learning, cause actual harm, or make students afraid for their safety.

Hammer said the NRA was not "driving" the issue in the Legislature, but they are supporting it.


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