UPDATE! Teen Suspended for Accidentally Packing a Beer (Instead of Soda) in Lunch

UPDATE: nnaehieeif
The school that suspended 17-year-old Chaz Seale for accidentally packing a beer instead of a soda in his lunch has relented and is now allowing him BACK. Lucky him! Going back to where the folks in charge can’t tell the difference between a crime and a mistake!

Anyway, his “minor in possession” charge will be dropped, too. I was happy to read that the superintendent admitted that the school officials botched this. Maybe they can be suspended for 60 days? – L. 

Readers — I don’t like to simply chronicle the stunningly asinine decisions made by school administrators who either HAVE no brains or believe they are not allowed to use them on the job, but sometimes I’m so mad I have to get it out. So read this story. It’s about a Texas teen with a spotless school record who accidentally grabbed a beer instead of a soda when he was packing his lunch.

Realizing his mistake once he got to school, he actually took the beer TO his teacher, BEFORE lunch, so he wouldn’t get in trouble. And…

He got in trouble: A 3-day suspension and 60 days in an “alternative school.” (No one says “reform school” anymore.)

His mom appealed the sentence so now the young man “only” has to spend 30 days at the other school. Because, of course, he still must pay for his sin: Making an honest mistake, admitting it, and dealing with it.

We citizens must hope he’ll spend the next 30 days learning how to be something other than a responsible young man who packs his own lunch. – L

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78 Responses to UPDATE! Teen Suspended for Accidentally Packing a Beer (Instead of Soda) in Lunch

  1. Andy February 28, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    Alternative school is something like day time prison for teenagers?

    That will be valuable lesson for him in the future. Do not admit mistake to the authority unless you have to. Weird lesson to teach kids.

  2. Warren February 28, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    1. Time for a lawyer. This will follow him to college applications. And it is immoral to have this kid pay for the actions of a bozo school admin.
    2. Technically speaking, one Coors Light at lunch, is probably a healthier alternative to a can of soda.

  3. K February 28, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    Isn’t Coors light nearly water anyway? I agree… it’s a healthier alternative than soda (only kinda kidding).

    But, seriously, is this where we are? Punishing children with permanent blotches on their records for admitting honest mistakes? Shame on them.

  4. SOA February 28, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    I freaking HATE zero tolerance policies. That is what they do. Even kids who try to do the right thing, get in trouble. He would have been better off trying to toss it discreetly than turn it over because of zero tolerance. Its nuts.

    That beer looks a lot like a Pepsi or one of those Brisk Iced tea cans so I can see the mistake and how it could easily happen. I guess the school thinks his parents should have not had beer in the house. I would fight this all the way to the top if this was my kid.

  5. BL February 28, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    @Warren
    “This will follow him to college applications.”

    In a sane universe, the school principal who “followed appropriate LISD administrative procedures and protocol” would never again be able to get a job that didn’t involve following dogs around with a scoop and a pail.

    And you’re right, beer is probably healthier than most of what you’ll find in school “lunches”.

  6. QuicoT February 28, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    OH Jesus the derp is strong with this one.

  7. Kristi Blue February 28, 2014 at 8:54 am #

    Isn’t the joke, “How are Coors Light and having sex in a boat alike?”….they’re both [email protected]#$ing close to water! Sorry, too many years spent in the Army.

  8. SOA February 28, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Or the school thinks his Mommy should still be packing his lunch for him and double checking it to make sure there is no beer in there. Because we have to baby teenagers, don’t ya know? They are incapable of packing a lunch apparently. Rolling my eyes soooo hard.

  9. Gary February 28, 2014 at 9:07 am #

    two things… 1) Coors Light is not beer but carbonated urine mixed with water and 2) it was a Coors Light.

    His punishment should be taking a class on what good beer is.

  10. Jet February 28, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    And what’s the takeaway for this student and others like him? If you ever make an honest mistake, don’t self-incriminate.

  11. Kate Berger February 28, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    This zero tolerance policy is just another way for knee jerks to control people. Now this kid will be taught that honesty is not the best policy…the bureaucracy is corrupt, that he is an evil human being….I hope to God that his mom is a strong enough person to fight the system. Pull her son out of school…don’t let him go to reform school. Teach him the value of independence. Mom, do the right thing.

  12. BL February 28, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    @Gary
    “Coors Light is not beer but carbonated urine mixed with water”

    Reminds me of a joke I heard from one of the entertainers at an Irish Festival:

    Adolph Coors, August Busch and Arthur Guinness are sitting in a bar. Adolph orders a Coors Light, August orders a Bud Light, and Arthur says he’ll have a Coca-Cola.

    “But, Arthur,” say the other two men, “you’re one of the great brewers of the world! It’s unseemly of you to order a soft drink in a bar!”

    “Gentlemen,” says Arthur, softly, “I’m just being polite. If you two aren’t going to drink beer, I won’t either…”

  13. baby-paramedic February 28, 2014 at 9:17 am #

    Uggghhhhhhhhefebwskjv bzde.bdf

    Yes, let us teach the upcoming generation that admitting mistakes gets us shafted. That’s a smart lesson to teach.

  14. John C. Randolph February 28, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    The mistake this kid made was trusting the brain-dead apparatchiki who run that government starter-prison that they have the nerve to call a school.

    What a SANE teacher would have done is just confiscate the beer.

    -jcr

  15. Christine Hancock February 28, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I tell my kids when it comes to rule breaking and accidents; that if nothing was damaged or stolen, no one was hurt or traumatized, and if I don’t catch them at it, then it most likely is not my business and it’s best not to tell me. No harm, no foul.

    I also find that zero tolerance policies are usually implemented selectively. I could be wrong, but chances have it pretty good, that someone on staff either wanted this student out of the way, or gets kickbacks for sending students to “alternative school”. There is also the possibility this district has a policy of making sure that no demographic group is punished disproportionately to another; and to stay clean of any accusations of racism, they have to punish a certain number of majority students per minority student. Of course the bureaucrat that decided on such a harsh punishment for admitting a mistake may have just an idiot.

  16. SKL February 28, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    How can they not have an exception for times when the student reports the mistake before it has any chance of causing harm?

    My nephew found himself in another dumb zero-tolerance situation that would have cost him admission to the gifted high school (part of the public schools) that had accepted him. His parents needed to hire a lawyer and also get all the community folks he dealt with (scouts, church) to be witnesses in court. I can’t believe we as a country continue to allow schools to do this to families, over nothing.

  17. SOA February 28, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    The person that mentioned race is correct. Zero Tolerance policies came about over racism accusations and that is why it stays in place. That does not make them okay. The fact of the matter is people have to use their judgment. So you just need to make sure you are putting good non racist administrators in the schools and then trust them to make the right call. The zero tolerance system does not work.

  18. Backroads February 28, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Years ago I had a friend who, in her first year of teaching 5th grade, had a stellar young student who accidentally left his pocket knife in his pants from the weekend. He found it, gave it to her, and she admittedly being the naive young teacher she was, turned it in to the principal. Now, you can argue a knife is more dangerous than a beer, but this teacher told me and many others that she will never again follow zero tolerance policies “just because” when she can just keep it quiet and not get a good kid in trouble.

  19. E. Simms February 28, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=9448003

    The school has relented…somewhat.

    As far as zero tolerance policies being racist, the data shows that minority students are disproportionately punished under zero tolerance. There’s no widespread punishment of non-minority students to keep the balance.

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/24/politics/zero-tolerance/

  20. lollipoplover February 28, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Better off rip-cording the can in a bathroom stall when he realized his mistake. That’s what you do with Girls Lite, isn’t it? Or is it PBR? Gross.

    Two things that bother me about this story:
    The bad beer probably *pissed* off the teacher so he got turned in.
    Why isn’t this 17 year-old fighting to clear his own name, not his mom?

  21. Donna February 28, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    “Alternative school is something like day time prison for teenagers?”

    No, it is just a school. It is largely independent learning rather than a classroom setting often run on non-traditional schedules. It can be great for teens who don’t function well in the traditional classroom setting or who have other commitments, like babies or even jobs, that make traditional school difficult, but who still want to get a high school diploma. Since it is work at your own pace, it allows kids who have fallen behind in school, to actually graduate faster than they would if they had to continue to sit in a traditional classroom. I have a few young clients who have decided to try to get their act together who go to alternative school voluntarily and it is working out very well for them where a traditional school would not.

    But it is also used as a dumping ground for kids with behavioral problems, most of whom don’t want to be in school but can’t drop out so they just disrupt things. These kids float in and out as they are kicked out of regular school for periods of time. They float in and out as they go in and out of kiddie jail. They disrupt things here just as they do in regular school. This would be most of my young clients.

    This kid really doesn’t belong there and it should not be used as punishment for good kids who just did something stupid. Even if he had intentionally brought the beer to drink during school, he would not belong there. Depending on location, it can be an extremely rough place full of gangbangers, criminals and kids with serious behavior/psychological disorders. It is for people who are not doing well in traditional school so it is not geared to help you with advanced and AP classes. While I don’t think going shows on your transcript unless you graduate from there, sending him for March and April (I understand that it is only 30 days now, but originally) in a school system that likely ends around mid-May could seriously screw up his ability to do well in his classes this semester.

  22. Neil M February 28, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    The message the school is sending is that honesty is NOT the best policy. Since Chaz would not have been punished more harshly if the beer had been discovered, students now have a direct incentive to lie, deny, lawyer up and cover up any action they feel might land them in trouble. What a society we’re making!

  23. CrazyCatLady February 28, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Yup. This is why, if my kids find that they accidentally took something from school, they need to call me, and tell me that they need “their other bag” or “their other lunch” so that I can bring them something else and switch out with them. Not ideal, but telling an adult at the school is definitely the wrong thing to do, sadly.

  24. Brooks February 28, 2014 at 11:49 am #

    We have always had a Puritanical influence in our country, and I believe that these policies, when combined with fear-based and risk-averse school environments and compounded by the ultra right frenzy going on today, and this is our modern day version of “feeding them to the lions.” One of the unfortunate things about our country is our punitive system of rules and regulations. The overriding enforcement goals in our country are to catch someone doing something wrong, not ensuring that they do right (or by extension, learn from their simple mistakes).

  25. Emily February 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    If I was Chaz’s teacher, my response would have been, “Good job being honest, Chaz. Since you did the right thing, here’s some money to get yourself some pop or juice at lunch, since you obviously can’t drink the beer here.” Of course, I actually, very deliberately, DIDN’T become a teacher–I walked away from teachers’ college, because I hated how “the system” treated the students, I hated how the good students always ended up getting the short end of the stick, and so, I have a feeling that a logical, kind answer such as quietly disposing of the beer and buying the student an alternative beverage, would probably get the teacher in trouble.

  26. Papilio February 28, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    So effectively: if you make an honest mistake and admit it, we’ll ruin your future? (Since someone said this could have consequences for college…)
    So many people say a criminal should be given a second chance. How about giving a good kid a first chance??

  27. Puzzled February 28, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I would slightly disagree with those who say this teaches not to be honest, or at least I’d add a qualifier. It teaches not to be honest with school types, which is in fact a good life lesson (most school types anyway, and all young people are very good at telling the difference.)

  28. Theo February 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

    “Because, of course, he still must pay for his sin: Making an honest mistake, admitting it, and dealing with it.”

    How is this different from any strict liability law, such as traffic violations or regulatory violations? Rarely do people turn themselves in for violations like speeding, running a red light, etc. If they do turn themselves in? What would your preferred result be? And what lesson best prepares a kid for that preferred result? It seems most people live by the lesson of “no harm, no foul,” not report the mistake and hope for forgiveness.

  29. SKL February 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Am I the only person who got offended at the comment toward the end of the video, where they said “I’ll bet the mom wishes she never bought the beer”? Really?

    I don’t drink beer, but WTH?

    As for the race thing, all I’ll say is that when my nephew (white) was supsended for 6 mos for having a tiny piece of rubber in his hand when a fight broke out in the science lab, the AA kid who gave him two black eyes (and who had a prior discipline record, unlike my nephew) got a 3-day suspension. (The no-tolerance rule didn’t apply to him because fists are not considered weapons; a tiny piece of rubber you had in your hand when punched is.) The teacher and the principal also happened to be black. So I dunno. Some people thought that race was a factor there.

    As for the alternative school, in my nephew’s district, which is tough anyway (they have cops in the halls of all the schools, all the time), the alternative school is a great place to go if you want free facial reconstructive surgery. Especially if you are an aspie geek.

    Never woulda happened, though, if my nephew hadn’t written on *his report* of the incident that he had a piece of rubber in his hand. My brother was sure he was raising a dumb kid at that moment.

    Note to self: go over the “no tolerance rules” frequently with my kids, so they will know what to never admit.

  30. Andrea February 28, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

    These are truly stupid times. Kids who go to school in this era need to learn (and to be taught) to protect themselves from the education institution and its drone-like wardens. I’m sad to say that this is the case, but there is too much evidence to the contrary.

  31. SOA February 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    SKL: I noticed that comment too about the parents having beer and it ruffled my feathers too. So what, now you are bad parents if you put beer in the fridge? Since when?

  32. CLamb February 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Sorta beside the point but aside from the alcohol the beer is nutritionally superior to the soda.

  33. Andy February 28, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    @Donna Thank you. The idea sounds good, but not good match for otherwise good boys.

    The last thing we probably want is to force good kids or kids in between into environment where troubled kids are majority (and thus probably rule social life and force them toughen up).

  34. BL February 28, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

    @Theo
    “Rarely do people turn themselves in for violations like speeding, running a red light, etc”

    The thing is, running a red light really could kill somebody, if there’s a pedestrian crossing or another car coming through the cross-street. Presumably these unreported ones happen when nothing happens except one car zipped through the red light, hitting nothing and nobody.

    But a can of beer? *Light* beer? Nothing life-threatening was going to happen, no matter what.

  35. Donna February 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    “Am I the only person who got offended at the comment toward the end of the video, where they said “I’ll bet the mom wishes she never bought the beer”? Really?”

    I didn’t hear it, but if that is all it said, I am not particularly offended. I probably would wish I had never bought the beer if this happened to my kid. It doesn’t mean that I think there is anything wrong with drinking beer, just that not buying that particular 6 pack would have prevented this whole mess to start with.

  36. Donna February 28, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    @Theo –

    When you run a red light, you’ve committed the exact same harm whether you report yourself or not. I see no reason to punish two people differently for the exact same act because one turned himself in.

    In this case, the harm is drinking beer not possessing an unopened can of beer that nobody knows that he has and he doesn’t intend to drink so the harm never occurred. Turning in the beer indicates that he is telling the truth that it was an accident or that he at least gave up the plan of drinking at school prior to doing it. That should not be treated the same as a kid who brings beer to school intending to drink it.

    I would not be opposed to the kid getting some “you’re a bonehead for not paying more attention” consequence, but not something that will potentially affect his future.

  37. Donna February 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Oh and I don’t think an otherwise good kid who brings a beer to school intending to drink it really needs 60 days at alternative school either.

  38. EricS February 28, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    And that’s how we teach our children to lie and not be responsible for their actions. It’s a bottle of bear, unopened, and surrendered. Not a gun, or even a knife. Paranoia isn’t just from parents, it’s from everyone. Complete lack of common sense from school officials. Proving yet again, stupidity isn’t exempt from anyone of authority. If you have a brain, you have the potential to do and say stupid things. It’s all up to the individual. Owning up to your mistake, NOT stupid. Not using common sense and better judgment that would affect a kid’s future, STUUUUUPID! I wonder if the teacher or the principal drank the beer.

  39. maggie February 28, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Reminds me a recent article I read. Needles and heroin found in the teacher’s lounge bathroom of a school. Second, yes SECOND time this year. The teachers union had the teachers lawyer up, so none will give voluntarily urine tests. No one has been suspended or fired.

    So the hard-core drug addict teacher is still teaching, protected by the teacher’s union and their attorneys.

    But the high schooler who WAS HONEST, and WAS NOT DRINKING, is punished.

    Yeah, schools make a lot of sense these days.

  40. Reziac February 28, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Someone said,
    ====
    I tell my kids when it comes to rule breaking and accidents; that if nothing was damaged or stolen, no one was hurt or traumatized, and if I don’t catch them at it, then it most likely is not my business and it’s best not to tell me. No harm, no foul.
    ====

    Good for you. This teaches kids to clean up their own messes, and to not require Authority to tell them to do it.

    As to this zero-tolerance crap, seems to me it MOSTLY hurts good kids who are trying to do the right thing, or bad kids who are trying to do better. I doubt very much that it does one damned thing to improve behavior by bad kids who intend to be bad.

  41. pentamom February 28, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    Brooks, FWIW, Puritanical is an oft-misused word. The Puritans loved beer. There’s some evidence that the Pilgrims (a stricter, breakaway Puritan group) changed course for Massachusetts after failing to make landfall in Virginia on time (their original destination) because their beer supplies on board were low.

  42. Jennifer February 28, 2014 at 9:32 pm #

    OK, I’m a middle school teacher and this has actually happened to me before. A kid came up to me in tears because his mom had stuck a Budweiser instead of a Coke in his lunch bag. He thought he was going to be suspended. I reassured him that it wasn’t a big deal, walked him down to the office and we turned it in to the principal and sent the kid to lunch with a dollar to buy milk. Mom was called and alerted to the problem, and the beer was dumped down the drain. That’s the saddest part of the entire story. Meanwhile, we got a great laugh out of it and it continues to be a great “in the trenches” story years later.

    This school’s response is incredibly exaggerated and no way indicative of how most educators would respond to this situation. Please don’t think that the majority of schools behave this way- they don’t, I assure you.

  43. bmj2k February 28, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    I did observations at an alternative school during my college days and found it (at least the one I saw) to be the most realistic type of school, where the teachers actually knew of and taught lessons about the real world. It was strict and restrictive, it had much less freedom than normal school, but the students were getting more true-life lessons and real-world information than they would have in a normal school. As far as the students, this was a last chance school so the lazy and the disruptive were already weeded out and only ones who wanted to learn were there.

    Unfortunately, this kid will have a stigma that will follow him for years, but in the long run (speaking educationally) this is not such a bad thing.

  44. Susan February 28, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

    Wow! As a teacher and a parent, I really hate to see the responsible kids who try to own up get punished. If I were that teacher I would feel as if I had made a mistake by not just throwing it away for him. Poor kid.

  45. CrazyCatLady February 28, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    Here is another case of a young person doing the right thing and ending up with terrible consequences. http://www.wral.com/nccu-sophomore-mistakenly-jailed-for-doing-the-right-thing-/13431855/

    Basically, a young African American college student, out with friends in the summer, find a dead body. He calls the cops to notify them of the death, he ends up being the main suspect and is jailed for a month on a million dollar bond. Eventually all charges are dropped.

    But the arrest is still on his record, and the internet. He can’t find housing. He is told HE must go to the trouble to expunge his record. This IS going to follow him forever and make it really hard to get a job or find a place to live. Even if he gets it expunged due to the fact that it will still be on the net.

    I find this really sad. Not long I read this: http://legionwriter.com/2014/01/15/this-crappy-obituary-reflections-on-the-woman-i-found-dead-in-the-starbucks-parking-lot/ The family was SO gratefull that someone took the time to check on the woman “sleeping” in the car. She had been missing since the day before, the family had been frantically searching for her. This guy, a white guy I am guessing, was NOT arrested for her “murder” or anything of the sort.

    Had it been my family member found dead that summer, night, I would have been glad that someone took the time to call it in, and really sad and angered that he ended up with problems for the rest of the caller’s life because of it.

  46. Kay February 28, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    The school is setting a precedent that teaches our children to NEVER COME FORWARD WITH ANYTHING ACCIDENTALLY TAKEN TO SCHOOL.

  47. anonymous this time March 1, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Laughing about this one because during a “bottle drive” for my kid’s hockey team this fall, I sorted through thousands of cans. We had to separate the alcoholic beverage cans from the non-alcoholic beverage cans… the deposit return rate was different. (Aluminum is aluminum, right? Someone explained why there was a difference, but I can’t remember. Convoluted.)

    Anyway, it was HARD to figure out which ones were beer, coolers, ciders, hard lemonade, whatever with booze involved… and which ones were pop, juice, tea, “infused” tea, whatever without booze involved. Gone are the days when there were four kinds of pop and you knew what the can looked like, and four kinds of beer and likewise.

    It was HARD. I was making a STUDY of it, and I STILL threw cans into the wrong sorting bag.

    It’s like they’re purposely making beer and alcohol drinks LOOK like pop cans. And likewise the other way around. It’s a pain in the butt to sort them all out. I can absolutely imagine an honest mistake packing lunch in the morning!

    Tragic how this turned out, moreso for the message of “honesty is NOT the best policy” than any actual “punishment” doled out to the kid. I’m sure he’ll weather it fine, it’s just that so many who come after him, and he himself, may be reticent to confront their own mistakes. Pity.

  48. anonymous this time March 1, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    Oh, and I’ll bet that hard cider and beer were commonly doled out to young men that age during lunch breaks wherever they were apprenticing the trades.

    100 years ago, people were a lot more sane in so many ways.

  49. J.T. Wenting March 1, 2014 at 2:10 am #

    “In a sane universe, the school principal who “followed appropriate LISD administrative procedures and protocol” would never again be able to get a job that didn’t involve following dogs around with a scoop and a pail.”

    NO! A scoop and a pail are dangerous implements, he could hurt someone with those…

    “Or the school thinks his Mommy should still be packing his lunch for him and double checking it to make sure there is no beer in there. ”

    I doubt the school cares who packs the lunch. The mother could have made the same mistake, and the child would have to pay for it.
    No, this is intended to have the end result of prohibiting bringing your own food, and requiring everyone to use the ‘approved food’ from the school cafetaria instead.
    (with a nice little profit going to the school of course from the sales).

    “And what’s the takeaway for this student and others like him? If you ever make an honest mistake, don’t self-incriminate.”

    yes, “don’t rat, even on yourself. Drink the beer rather than giving it to your teacher”.
    Of course that can be caught by mandatory lunch box inspections and breatheliser tests for the pupils…

    “The person that mentioned race is correct. Zero Tolerance policies came about over racism accusations and that is why it stays in place. ”

    And even there they’re wrong, more than wrong.
    Children are being punished for being misheard, for the pure malice of others, and for honest mistakes.
    Say a black kid has a general dislike for whites. He can just claim “hate speech” against a white kid, say he was called “blacky” or “nigger” and the claim itself is enough reason to get the white kid a conviction of “racism” and the associated punishment.
    And with the ever expanding list of words white people aren’t allowed to use and things they’re not allowed to do “because it’s racist” it’s impossible to keep track of it all anyway.
    Couple of years ago here there was a protest from anti-racist groups against chocolate with white cream filling, they claimed such things are racist because they depict blacks as whites with a layer of black dirt.
    Result? Stores stopped selling such things…

    It’s got so silly whites are effectively to not say anything because whatever they say is automatically racist…

    “If I was Chaz’s teacher, my response would have been, “Good job being honest, Chaz. Since you did the right thing, here’s some money to get yourself some pop or juice at lunch, since you obviously can’t drink the beer here.””

    hmm, if it were indeed ‘light beer’ I’ve had winked and told him “boy, that’s not beer but if you don’t want it I’ll exchange it with you for the orange juice I packed with my lunch” 😉
    No “zero tolerance” trigger as there was no beer.

    “So many people say a criminal should be given a second chance. How about giving a good kid a first chance??”

    nah, turn them into criminals like you’ve done the rest of society so you’ll have something to use against them for the rest of their lives.
    That’s how the “justice” system works, best teach it to the kids early on.

    “? Rarely do people turn themselves in for violations like speeding, running a red light, etc. If they do turn themselves in? What would your preferred result be? ”

    you do that here you’re laughed out of the police station, if you’re not arrested for wasting the cops’ time.

    “Sorta beside the point but aside from the alcohol the beer is nutritionally superior to the soda.”

    and alcohol is a much better preservative than is sugar 😉

    “Brooks, FWIW, Puritanical is an oft-misused word. The Puritans loved beer. ”

    it just means “holier than thou” and you know it.
    Control freaks, zealots, call it what you want. Unsavory people who want to tell others what to do out of a sense of “I know better what’s good for you than you do yourself”.

    “and the beer was dumped down the drain. That’s the saddest part of the entire story.”

    you’re calling the principal’s mouth a drain? hmm…

    Wonder what would have happened when I was a kid at school decades ago.
    Probably nothing, or indeed the teacher would have kept the beer and drunk it himself after hours, buying me a carton of milk instead at the school cafetaria in compensation.

  50. Andy March 1, 2014 at 6:16 am #

    @anonymous this time 100 years ago was 1914 and that is when first world war started. I would make the case that actually, we are much more saner, even if we include problems like this.

    Sorry, could not resist, I’m in nitpicky mood today. Americans may have been sane that time.

  51. Karla March 1, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    I’m with Lenore completely!!! He packed his own lunch!!! Not many teens can say that. All the rest of this is sad nonsense. God bless him.

  52. Warren March 1, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    I can remember in my senior year of high school, we were putting on the last performance of our play. Big party planned for afterward, and we all had brought something, to the school to take with us. The drummer had his bag for his bass loaded with bottles, and when he set it down to talk to the director, the head of the English Dept., the teacher heard the tell tale clinking. He just smiled, and did his best imitation of Sgt. Shultz, “I know nothink!” and walked away.
    Today we would all have been arrested on the spot. How times have changed.

  53. Shawn Dawson March 1, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    School administration has changed so much since I graduated (’81). Zero tolerance, I believe, has ruined more lives than it has helped. It does not teach students to become good citizens. Rather, it teaches them not to trust the system, or folks with authority over you. In school this is a teacher, once graduated it is the police, judges, city personnel who enforce rules.

    My (now 28 year old) daughter ran afoul of zero-tolerance when she was 16. The details do not matter too much, but it was something that took place off school grounds and before school. There was nothing in school at all. But after being questioned (interrogated) she admitted to doing something. This was September, and she was expelled for the semester, which ends in January. So she missed almost 5 months of school, and was given a tutor for 1 hour a day.

    The only thing she learned from this was to never admit anything to a person in authority. To not cooperate, because even if they say they are trying to help you, they are part of the system, and once you admit something under ‘zero tolerance’, the machine comes into play. In this particular instance, there was absolutely 0 evidence, no substances, no property damage or physical damage to others, nothing happened on school grounds. The only evidence were her own words, which were immediately used against her.

    I believe zero tolerance is more about removing troubled kids from the system so teachers don’t have to deal with them, than it is about helping troubled kids.

    BTW, I have a masters in education and a teaching license, but I am not currently teaching. There are wonderful teachers in our schools, but they operate under a very flawed system in many respects. Zero tolerance being one of the worst ideas ever inflicted upon a schooling system.

    Shawn

  54. SOA March 1, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Don’t even get me started on the murder stuff. Cops always just try to pin it on the most obvious person because they don’t care about solving actual crimes and bringing justice. They just care about writing Solved on that case file and putting it in a drawer. So they just blame the most obvious person and call it a day when really the actual murderer is getting away with it while they waste time trying to blame the person that found the body or the husband or whatever. Random murders by strangers never hardly get solved. Know this first hand unfortunately.

  55. SKL March 1, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    I’m thinking about this boy, who is 17 and a junior. He will still be in school when he becomes an adult. Isn’t it kind of sick to treat adults that way?

    And honestly, it wasn’t that different when I was a kid. They didn’t have “zero tolerance” (or they didn’t call it that), but they still punished the people who were easy to punish and turned a blind eye to the difficult stuff. Once my brother, who was 18, was on the high school campus outside of school hours. Some other kid reported that he had a pack of cigarettes in his coat pocket. He was suspended. My mom had a fit, because he was an adult and doing nothing illegal, and he wasn’t even smoking the cigarettes, they were simply in his pocket. In those days most of the teachers were smokers; they even had a room in the school dedicated for smoking. At some of the schools, adult students even had designated smoking areas. Didn’t matter.

    I graduated at 16. I had already decided that if I could not graduate at 16, I would drop out and take the GED rather than be treated like an animal or criminal for another year.

    I guess I’m saying they should give some thought to the fact that these people they are dealing with are on the verge of adulthood, not puberty. An adult who accidentally brought a beer to college or work would not be disciplined at all, unless he actually drank the alcohol AND it affected his performance.

  56. SOA March 1, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    This is making me think I am going to have to teach my kids never to admit to anything if questioned by authority and to just say “I won’t answer any questions without a lawyer or my mother or both” when it comes to the school system. And if they end up with contraband to not turn it in, but contact me and I will come deal with it.

    Our school always did the drug dog searches about twice a year. Usually people always knew when it was going to happen so really I doubt it did much good. Word got around so to speak. The problem was the lockers had little slits in them. So if someone was trying to get rid of drugs all they would have to do is stuff it in someone else’s locker through the slit. And then that person would be expelled and go to jail even though they would have no proof that was their drugs. Great system they have there.

  57. SOA March 1, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    At our school even once you were 18 you would still be suspended if you brought cigarettes on campus, but the teachers brought them because I saw them in their purses. You also were still forbidden to sign yourself in and out of school if you were 18. I don’t know how that one was legal.

  58. SKL March 1, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I have always thought that the way they treat kids like criminals / zoo animals is a big reason why so many kids drop out before graduation. Maybe that’s what they want, I don’t know.

  59. Warren March 1, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Wow. Talk about over regulated.
    Our high school had a designated smoking area outside, and no one ever checked ages.
    To this day, an 18yr is treated like an adult as far as signing in/out and any asbences. And it does not matter what age, in high school a student can leave for lunch without signing out.

  60. Andy March 1, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    @Shawn Dawson “it teaches them not to trust the system, or folks with authority over you. In school this is a teacher, once graduated it is the police, judges, city personnel who enforce rules.”

    Well, should we teach kids to trust folks with authority? Folks with authority are people like any other, except they decided to go into profession that gave them authority or climbed some career ladder.

    There is no reason to think they are more moral, ethical or trustworthy then anyone else.

    When it comes to real world authorities like cops and judges, they are trustworthy only to the extend society managed to check and control their usage of power. That is why we need independent journalists and why dictatorships tend to be corrupt – no one check on people with authority.

  61. SOA March 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    SKL: me too. I know at least one student who had straight A’s was in the gifted program who dropped out of school because of that. She finished most of her credits early due to being such a good student and asked to be able to just come half days at school rather than take classes she did not need and stay the entire day. They refused to let her, so she dropped out. I think her request seems reasonable to me.

  62. lollipoplover March 1, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    @anonymous this time-
    Over the summer at a barbeque I noticed one of my daughter’s friends (age 7) grabbing a can from the wrong cooler. Our host had kids coolers with water and juice boxes and adult coolers with beer and those *infused* lemonades and mixed drinks that contained alcohol. I stopped the boy and told him where kid drinks were and he said it was his third one! I got his mom and told her that the boy was probably plastered and she was completely horrified that her son downed 3 alcoholic beverages but he had no idea…

  63. Gary March 1, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    On TBH’s second day of school…when it comes…I am “accidentally” sending him with an AR-15, a bottle of single malt scotch, a prostitute, 10lbs. of enriched uranium and a package of Famous Amos nut cookies…

  64. lollipoplover March 1, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

    Thought this was a very good question:
    When may I shoot a student?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/opinion/when-may-i-shoot-a-student.html?_r=0

  65. Donna March 1, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    “This is making me think I am going to have to teach my kids never to admit to anything if questioned by authority and to just say “I won’t answer any questions without a lawyer or my mother or both” when it comes to the school system.”

    This should be your answer when questioned by ANYONE in authority. The number of people, adults and teens, that I represent who completely confess to the police in cases where there is no evidence against them is astounding. The police and school officials who are trying to question you about a crime are not your friends. They are not looking out for your best interest. They lie through their teeth to get you to say what they want you to say. You will not outsmart them no matter how smart you think that you are. And you are not going to go home after you confess to a crime no matter how many times they tell you that you are.

  66. Leonard March 1, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    A couple notes of caution here. Even though I agree zero tolerance policies have gotten out of hand and I don’t want kids to get the idea that honesty is bad, we only heard one side of the story. No one from the school was interviewed for the TV news segment and they probably couldn’t comment even if they were because of confidentiality rules regarding student records. So as much as I sympathize with the kid if he is telling the truth, I really don’t know that he is.
    Secondly, if the teacher took the risk of not reporting this to his supervisor and just disposed of the beer, he risked getting fired if the word got back to that supervisor. Kids talk and they brag if they get away with something. As for the mother, when I went to school and later when I volunteered at my own kid’s school, I found that most parents are expert at blaming the school when their kids are punished even for real infractions. The bottom line is we really don’t know what happened. The self-righteous anger expressed by the commentators seems a bit overwrought.

  67. SKL March 1, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    Even if you paint this kid in the worst possible light (which I did consider – e.g., he knew someone ratted so he fessed up rather than wait to get caught) – even then, the degree of punishment assigned was excessive. Even if he drank the beer. Even if he drank a beer at school more than once. I mean, it’s a can of beer.

    But I get it, the real-life issue in this case *may not* be the strict liability aspect of it (admitting an unintended mistake = committing an intentional crime). However, those of us who have had real-life experiences of “zero tolerance” BS in our families know that this is a real problem.

    I think it’s good advice to teach kids not to admit anything without first consulting with Mom. I hate saying that, though. It makes the world that much colder, but I’ve seen what can happen if a kid tells “the truth.” It truly is a nightmare.

  68. SOA March 1, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Leonard: Since I went to school under zero tolerance rules and saw many a good kid go down over stupid stuff, I tend to believe them and I think my outrage is exactly appropriate. I saw zero tolerance work negatively and unfairly more than I saw it work fairly and that was with my own two eyes.

  69. hineata March 1, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    @Lollipoplover – Thanks so much for that link! I am looking forward to the day when I am allowed to take up arms in my primary classroom, thus enabling me to remove all those threats to my wellbeing in the form of obnoxious students and so it is timely for Mr K. to put this question out there. Teachers everywhere thank him :-).

  70. BL March 2, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    @SKL
    “I think it’s good advice to teach kids not to admit anything without first consulting with Mom. I hate saying that, though. It makes the world that much colder”

    The only thing wrong with this statement is that school is not “the world”.

  71. Z-girl March 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    I’m a teacher. I had student confess to me he brought a lighter to school by mistake. I quietly took the lighter, commended the student for being honest, and that was the end of that.

    I have huge issues teaching within the US, both due to the education system and the social system/ culture. You FR supporters know very well that accountability is not something most kids learn at home any more. In my opinion, much change for the worse in the education system has been driven by change for the worse in society. Think about that before you blame the education system……

  72. Tasha Batsford March 2, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    And they wonder why people want to home school their children?

  73. Dan March 2, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    The sad part about the update over the school rethinking this is that it has the appearance of many other changes of heart from institutions, politicians, etc. They changed not because they made a bad call in the first place, but because of all the negative press they got over it. It’s the difference between “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings”, and “I’m sorry your feelings are hurt” – the second one is simply disingenuous.

  74. Dave B March 3, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    I can already imagine busybodies jumping up and demanding airport like security theater with baggage checks.

    Mandatory checks before each class starts so that nobody could bring something “bad”.

    Kids and parents are criminals after all, so they should be treated like criminals.

  75. katie March 3, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    I’m not so sure this is anything new, rather just a reflection of our crazy “war on drugs” that’s been going on for a long time now. I remember a similar incident in my high school where a student was holding another students backpack for them and when the bell rang and the student didn’t come back they dropped the back pack and unknown to them the other student had a beer and it exploded and they suspended that student who was holding the back pack even though he was clueless about the contents.

    It never ceases to amaze me that in the US you can own a giant gas guzzler for no reason what so ever, but you can’t drink until your 21.

  76. Buffy March 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Great job Katie!! You were able to work in “gas guzzler” in a post that had absolutely nothing to do with vehicles or driving!!!

  77. Amanda March 3, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    I accidentally did the same thing once (Coors Light looks a lot like Diet Coke), luckily as an adult I did not have to report to anyone!
    On a side note, my son got in trouble for bringing bottle caps to school (he is 6 and collects them), people are just too uptight.

  78. Karma March 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    This really pisses me off because when I was in High school we were always told that if anything like this ever happened we should give to an admin. But 99% of the time, this would happen and the teachers would punish the student despite reassurances that they wouldn’t. It took all of two seconds for the kids to learn that these grown-ups were untrustworthy liars and to stay away at all costs.