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Zero Tolerance Policies in Florida School Districts

University of Florida Institutional Repository
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021115/00001

Material Information

Title: Zero Tolerance Policies in Florida School Districts
Physical Description: 1 online resource (121 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Schoonover, Brian J
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: aba, advancement, allten, alternative, analysis, apa, brian, bully, chance, code, crockett, definition, disabilities, discipline, district, doud, education, elements, florida, gainesville, gfsa, gun, guns, harassment, heather, honeyman, idea, inclusion, knife, lil, mcelhone, model, naacp, option, paris, policy, quinn, residential, saint, school, schoonover, sexual, student, tennessee, texas, tolerance, university, weapons, zero
Educational Administration and Policy -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Educational Leadership thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Mandatory punishments for disciplinary offenses have been included in school districts? Student Codes of Conduct since the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 mandated that districts have zero tolerance policies in order to receive their federal education dollars. Thirteen years later, the majority of the 67 school districts in Florida have expanded their use of zero tolerance policies to include infractions other than those that were included to keep guns out of schools. This policy analysis, the first comprehensive study of its kind, evaluated the zero tolerance policies found in all 67 of Florida's Student Codes of Conduct with the intent of providing policy-makers and educational leaders with practical, action-oriented recommendations on ways they can improve how students are disciplined in Florida. This study examined the history of zero tolerance polices, including the practice of adding offenses other than the possession of guns to these policies. This policy analysis detailed the differences between large school districts in Florida, those over 15,000 students, with the small school districts in Florida and their decisions on what to include in their districts' zero tolerance policies. This study concluded with recommendations on what should be in a model Student Code of Conduct as well as a recommendation for starting a Three-CHANCE (Changing Habits After New Character Education) system of educational placements.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Brian J Schoonover.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: Doud, James L.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021115:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021115/00001

Material Information

Title: Zero Tolerance Policies in Florida School Districts
Physical Description: 1 online resource (121 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Schoonover, Brian J
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: aba, advancement, allten, alternative, analysis, apa, brian, bully, chance, code, crockett, definition, disabilities, discipline, district, doud, education, elements, florida, gainesville, gfsa, gun, guns, harassment, heather, honeyman, idea, inclusion, knife, lil, mcelhone, model, naacp, option, paris, policy, quinn, residential, saint, school, schoonover, sexual, student, tennessee, texas, tolerance, university, weapons, zero
Educational Administration and Policy -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Educational Leadership thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Mandatory punishments for disciplinary offenses have been included in school districts? Student Codes of Conduct since the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 mandated that districts have zero tolerance policies in order to receive their federal education dollars. Thirteen years later, the majority of the 67 school districts in Florida have expanded their use of zero tolerance policies to include infractions other than those that were included to keep guns out of schools. This policy analysis, the first comprehensive study of its kind, evaluated the zero tolerance policies found in all 67 of Florida's Student Codes of Conduct with the intent of providing policy-makers and educational leaders with practical, action-oriented recommendations on ways they can improve how students are disciplined in Florida. This study examined the history of zero tolerance polices, including the practice of adding offenses other than the possession of guns to these policies. This policy analysis detailed the differences between large school districts in Florida, those over 15,000 students, with the small school districts in Florida and their decisions on what to include in their districts' zero tolerance policies. This study concluded with recommendations on what should be in a model Student Code of Conduct as well as a recommendation for starting a Three-CHANCE (Changing Habits After New Character Education) system of educational placements.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Brian J Schoonover.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2007.
Local: Adviser: Doud, James L.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2007
System ID: UFE0021115:00001


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ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN
FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS




















By

BRIAN JAMES SCHOONOVER


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2007





































O 2007 Brian James Schoonover




























To my wife, Heather, and to my parents, Mike and Diane









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to acknowledge and thank my beautiful wife Heather for her love, patience,

and support through this entire process. To put it simply, without her, life would not be worth

living. I would also like to acknowledge my parents for instilling in me Christian values, a

passion for education, and a desire for lifelong learning. In addition, I would like to acknowledge

all of the people that aided me as I pursued my goal of obtaining my Ph.D. First and foremost, I

must thank Dr. Jim Doud and his lovely wife Janet who, even before I was accepted as a student

to the University of Florida, were connected to my family because Jim worked in the same Iowa

school district thirty years ago as my mother-in-law Sue Green. Jim's support of me, both

professionally and personally, went over-and-beyond what any student could expect from a

university professor, especially one at a Tier-1 institution like the University of Florida. For that

support, I am eternally grateful.

There is a long list of other UF faculty and staff that I would be remiss if I did not

acknowledge for their support of my continued education, including my committee members

Drs. Crockett, Quinn, Honeyman, and my substitute committee member Dr. Clark. Their

guidance and dedication to the process of editing and conferring with me is truly appreciated. I

would also like to acknowledge Drs. Campbell, Algina, Miller, and Behar-Horenstein for their

relentless support in my academic aspirations on campus and in my cohort classes, as well as Dr.

Sandeen and his daughter, my former colleague, Sara, for their support throughout this process.

In addition, I would like to acknowledge Drs. Hagedorn and Gratto, along with Angela Rowe,

who all generously gave of their time to help me as I tried to meet all of my deadlines while

living 1 V/2 hours away in St. Augustine.

A special acknowledgment must be extended to Bob Allten, my former principal, who

supported my pursuit from the beginning of my program up to when he traveled with Heather










and me all the way to Gainesville to watch me accept my January 2006 Student of the Month

award. Without his blessing and flexibility, my dream of having a doctoral degree would never

have come true. He is an example of someone who truly values life-long learning, and for that, I

thank him.

I also would like to acknowledge Brian McElhone, my current principal. He not only has

provided me with guidance as I balanced both work and pursuing this degree, but he has given

me nothing but absolute support in my new role as assistant principal. His friendship along the

way has been an added perk to my job, a friendship that I anticipate will grow in the years to

come.

My last acknowledgement is extended to all of my fellow Jacksonville/St. Augustine

cohort members. Words cannot describe what an impact meeting all of them has had on my life.

We shared good experiences and bad, deaths and births, and through it all, grew as educators and

as human beings. God placed us all together for a reason, and I believe that reason is being

fulfilled through this dissertation. The stories, memories, and experiences we shared cannot be

quantified, nor will they ever be forgotten. To each and every one of them, I acknowledge and

bless them for everything they have given to me.












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............. ...............4.....


LIST OF TABLES ........._..... ...............9.._._. ......


AB S TRAC T ............._. .......... ..............._ 10...


CHAPTER


1 ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FLORIDA ................. ............._...... 11.........


Current School Policies .............. ...............12....
Statement of the Problem. ................. ...............14...._.._ ....
Framework of the Study ................ .... .. ...............1
Purpose of the Study and Research Questions ................. ....._._ ....._._ ..........1
Significance of the Study ........_................. ............_........1
Limitations ........_................. ........_._ .........17


2 HISTORY OF ZERO TOLERANCE................ ...............1


The Formation of a Zero Tolerance Definition ................ ....................19
Defining Zero Tolerance for Students with Disabilities.................. ............2
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 ............... .... ........._..21
The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 ................. ...............22.............
Origins of the Term Zero Tolerance .............._ ....... ...............24...
Current Zero Tolerance Policies ..........._..__.. ........_ ...............27...
Enactment and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance Policies ................. ......_._...............27

Expert Opinions on Zero Tolerance Policies............... ...............30
Effects of Zero Tolerance Policies on Student Behavior ............_ .... ...__...........3 1
Rethinking Zero Tolerance Policies .............. ...............34....
Recent Changes in Zero Tolerance Policies .....__ ................. ............... 37. ...
Alternatives to Zero Tolerance Punishments in Florida ................. ......._..................38
Student Codes of Conduct ................. ........._ ...............44.....
Elements of Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies ................. ................ ................44
Defining the Term Zero Tolerance ..........._.._ .....__ ...............46...
Guns .............._ ...... ...............48.....
Knives .............._ ....... ...............49.....

D rugs .............. .... ...............5
Bullying and Harassment .............. ........ ...............5
Opti ons for an Alternative Educati onal S getting ................. ...............54......_._.
Summary ........._..... ...._... ...............55.....













3 THE STUDY .............. ...............57....


Overview of the Method ................. ...............57.......... .....
Overview of the Study ................. ...............57.......... ....
Overview of Policy Analysis ................. ...............58................
Theoretical Framework of the Study ................. ...............59.......... ....
Data Sources .............. ...............60....
Proc edure s ................ .......... ...............61......
Theory and Rationale .............. ...............61....
Conceptualizations .............. ...............63....
Operati onalizati ons ................. ...............64......_......
Coding Schemes .............. ...............64....
Sampling ........._..... ...._... ...............64.....
Coding ............... .... ...............65.
Tabulation and Reporting ........._..... ...._... ...............67....
Summary ........._..... ...._... ...............67.....


4 RE SEARCH FINDINGS ................. ...............68................


Profile of Data Sources ................. .......... ...............69. ....
Method and Rates of Retrieval .................. .. ......... ...............69.....
Description of Categories by School District Size ................ ................ ......... .70
District Size and Inclusion of a Zero Tolerance Definition .............. .....................7
District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Guns ................. ............... .....71
District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Knives ................ ................ ..72
District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance for Drugs .............. ..... ..................7
District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Bullying and Harassment...........73
District Size and Options for an Alternative Education Setting ................. ................. 74
Results of Coding by Categories .............. ...............74....
Results of Coding by Indicators .............. .. ......... ............7
Inclusion of a Definition for the Term Zero Tolerance ................. ........................76
Guns ........._._ ......_ _. ...............77...
Knives ........._._ ...... .. ...............77...

D rugs .............. ...............78....
Bullying ........._..... ... ..... ._. ........_._... ...........7
Opti ons for an Altemnative Educati onal S getting ........._..... ...._... ....._.... .....7
Summary ofPattems............... ...............7


5 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS .............. ...............91....


Discussion of the Findings. ........._.._.. ...._... ...............92...
Defining Zero Tolerance ............... ......... ........ ...............9
Compliance with the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 ..........._..__......_._ ................93
Expanding Zero Tolerance Policies.................. ........ .........9
Providing the Option of an Altemnative Education Setting ................. ............. .......96
Conclusions............... ..............9











Conclusion 1: Student Codes of Conduct Should Include a Definition of the Term
Zero Tolerance .................. ............. .. ........... ........ ........9
Conclusion 2: Limit What Constitutes a Zero Tolerance Offense ................. ...............97
Conclusion 3: Districts Should Fund Alternative Education Settings..............._._. .........98
Implications for Policy and Practice................. ...............9
Revisit Current Student Codes of Conduct .............. ...............99....
Adopt a Model Student Code of Conduct .............. ......... ... ......... ........100
Create and Implement a Three CHANCE System of Educational Settings .................. 102
Recommendations for Future Research ....__ ......_____ .......__ .............0
Summary ............ ..... .._ ...............105...

APPENDIX

A ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FL SCHOOL DISTRICTS
CODEBOOK ............ ..... ._ ...............111...

B ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS
CODING FORM ............ ..... ._ ...............112...

C UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL
LETTER ............ ..... ._ ...............113...


D INITIAL LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS ................. .................1 14

E SECOND LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS ................. ................115

REFERENCE LIST ................. ...............116......... ......

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............121......... ......










LIST OF TABLES


Table page

4-1 Results by method for Florida school districts .............. ...............81....

4-2 Results by rate of retrieval for Florida school districts ................. .......... ...............82

4-3 Division of districts into categories by student body population............... ...............8

4-4 Results by district size and inclusion of a zero tolerance definition............... ...............8

4-5 Results by district size and zero tolerance for guns ................. ...............85.............

4-6 Results by district size and zero tolerance for knives ................. ................. ........ 86

4-7 Results by district size and zero tolerance for drugs................ ...............87.

4-8 Results by district size and zero tolerance for bullying .......... ................ ...............88

4-9 Results by district size and an alternative education setting ................. ......................89

4-10 Comparison of categories to indicators............... ...............9

5-1 Seven elements to include in a model student code of conduct ................. ................. 109

5-2 Changing habits after new character education (CHANCE) schools .............. .... ...........110









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES INT FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS

By

Brian James Schoonover

August 2007

Chair: James Doud
Major: Educational Leadership

Mandatory punishments for disciplinary offenses have been included in school districts'

Student Codes of Conduct since the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 mandated that districts have

zero tolerance policies in order to receive their federal education dollars. Thirteen years later, the

maj ority of the 67 school districts in Florida have expanded their use of zero tolerance policies to

include infractions other than those that were included to keep guns out of schools. This policy

analysis, the first comprehensive study of its kind, evaluated the zero tolerance policies found in

all 67 of Florida' s Student Codes of Conduct with the intent of providing policy-makers and

educational leaders with practical, action-oriented recommendations on ways they can improve

how students are disciplined in Florida.

This study examined the history of zero tolerance polices, including the practice of adding

offenses other than the possession of guns to these policies. This policy analysis detailed the

differences between large school districts in Florida, those over 15,000 students, with the small

school districts in Florida and their decisions on what to include in their districts' zero tolerance

policies. This study concluded with recommendations on what should be in a model Student

Code of Conduct as well as a recommendation for starting a Three-CHANCE (Changing Habits

After New Character Education) system of educational placements.









CHAPTER 1
ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES INT FLORIDA

The fear of violence in schools has led American legislators and educational leaders to

adopt discipline policies that are increasingly punitive in nature (Noguera, 1995). One example

of a punitive discipline policy is the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 (U. S. Department of

Education, 2006). The Gun-Free Schools Act requires each state receiving federal Elementary

and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) money to have a policy that mandates students be

expelled for at least 365 days from their regular educational setting if they bring a firearm onto

school property or to a school event. It continues to be enforced today since its reauthorization in

Section 4141 of the ESEA as amended by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (U. S.

Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools, 2006).

Since the enactment of the federal Guns-Free School Act of 1994, Florida has required its

public school districts to create and enforce policies that offer no leniency for students (Florida

Safe and Healthy Schools Act, 1006.13, 2005). These policies, commonly referred to as zero

tolerance or "One Strike and You're Out" policies, are stated so that they are as broad, vague,

and all-encompassing as possible (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003). While the Florida statute

complies with the federal law, many school districts across Florida have broadened the policy to

include expulsion for knives, drugs, bullying, and even disorderly conduct.

To bring public attention to the different ways in which Florida implements zero tolerance

policies, the Washington, DC non-profit group Advancement Proj ect in collaboration with the

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the Florida State Conference of the

NAACP examined the zero tolerance practices of Florida' s six largest school districts in its 2006

report titled Arresting Development: Addressing the School Discipline Crisis in Florida. The

report came as a reaction to the much-publicized 2005 Associated Press article that highlighted









the incident of a five-year-old girl who was handcuffed and arrested by St. Petersburg, Florida

police for having a temper tantrum in her classroom (Advancement Proj ect, Florida State

Conference of the NAACP, & the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc, 2006).

Since then, the girl's family has hired a lawyer and is suing both the Pinellas County School

District as well as the St. Petersburg Police Department (Associated Press & CBS News, 2005).

In an interview with the Associated Press, the lawyer for the family said,

unfortunately, with our system of civil justice, the way that we handle these matters, is you
have to sue someone in order to get reform .. to get the reform, you have to make them
pay, because if you don't make them pay, they're never going to reform themselves. If they
don't have to pony up, there never will be any change. (TI 13)

Realizing that reform through the court system can be quite expensive for school districts, the

Florida Association of District School Superintendents (FADSS) used the Advancement Proj ect

report as the impetus for discussion when they convened in the fall of 2006 to address the

implementation of zero tolerance policies in Florida. They did not, however, publish any official

statements regarding the proceedings of their meeting.

Implementing a zero tolerance policy that is both consistent with the Gun-Free Schools

Act yet also respectful to the particular characteristics of the communities would eliminate

inconsistent interpretations of the policy. There currently are no guidelines or model elements for

Student Codes of Conduct that school boards or district superintendents can refer to when trying

to improve their policies (Florida Department of Education, 2006). Achieving these model

elements served as the impetus for this research.

Current School Policies

There are some similarities as well as differences in how discipline is handled across

Florida's school districts. For example, even though Florida State Law does not require knives to

be included as one of the infractions included in zero tolerance policies, many school districts in









Florida have a clause in their discipline codes of conduct that mandates expulsion from the

regular education setting for the possession of a knife. In addition, of the 26,990 school related

referrals to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) during the 2004-2005 school year,

"over three-quarters of school-based referrals (76%) were for misdemeanor offenses such as

disorderly conduct, trespassing, or assault and/or battery, which is usually nothing more than a

schoolyard fight" (Advancement Proj ect, 2006, p. 6). Children in Florida are increasingly being

sent to judges and j ails for offenses that traditionally were dealt with in the principal's office and

after school detentions (Kaczor, 2006).

There are also cases of non-violent students who have been expelled under Florida' s zero

tolerance policies. In 1999, a Florida high school student was expelled for violating his district' s

zero tolerance policy against "inappropriate behavior" (Huffines, 2000). The student was

disciplined for threatening to shoot up the school in a Columbine-type fashion. The student

adamantly denied ever saying this. The principal could not find one credible adult or student

witness to support the allegation. The police were called to the school, but after a two-day

investigation, they determined that there was not enough evidence to press any type of charge

against the student. This, however, did not stop the school board from expelling the student. The

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) eventually accepted the family's case in 2000, but at

that point the boy had already been out of school for an entire year. Such incidents are numerous

not only in Florida but across the country (Skiba, Reynolds, Graham, Sheras, Conoley, &

Garcia-Vazquez, 2006).

Few school district policies utilize internal discipline methods that try to "address the

underlying causes of behavioral problems" (Advancement Project, 2006, p. 6). Thirty years ago,

it would have been an unusual sight to have a child handcuffed by a police officer in school. This










is, however, becoming more common in today's public institutions of education. The sight of

children being criminalized, handcuffed, arrested, booked, and sent to court for minor

misconduct in school is a trend that is commonly referred to as the "schoolhouse-to-j ailhouse

track" or the "school-to-prison pipeline" (p. 6).

Statement of the Problem

Children are often suspended and expelled from their regular education settings for

offenses that do not pose a threat to school safety and that are far beyond the scope and

intentions of the 1994 GFSA (Advancement Proj ect, 2006). In August 2006, the American

Psychological Association (APA) convened a task force to study the psychological affects that

zero tolerance policies have had on the development of adolescents and their ability to learn in an

atmosphere that is governed by punitive policies (Skiba, et al., 2006). To highlight the urgency

for zero tolerance reform, the APA pointed out how zero tolerance policies punish innocent

children :

January, 2004, Bossier Parrish, Louisiana. A fifteen year old girl found in possession of
one Advil tablet was expelled for one year under a district policy of zero tolerance for any
drug. Closer scrutiny of previous school disciplinary actions in the school district revealed
cases in which other students had received a lighter punishment for explicitly illegal drugs.
(Skiba, et al., 2006, p. 31)

According to the APA Zero Tolerance Taskforce, there are many school board members,

educational leaders, and parents who believe that suspending or expelling students is an effective

behavioral modification because it promotes a safer learning environment for the children who

were not involved with the incident (Skiba, et al., 2006). The taskforce, however, reported data

that contradicted this belief. APA data indicated that the behaviors that resulted in the suspension

or expulsion were not modified, and that the removal of those students did not create a safer

learning environment in those schools.









Some educational leaders and legislators publicly support the idea that zero tolerance

policies enacted over the past decade have made their schools safer (U.S. Department of Justice,

2005). Their claims are supported by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics annual report

Indicators of School Crime and Safety that states "violent victimization dropped from 48

incidents per 1,000 students in 1992 to 24 per 1,000 in 2002, a decrease that mirrors a decrease

in crime among the whole population" (Scarpa, 2005, p. 19). Yet there is evidence to suggest that

even with zero tolerance policies "the federal report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety,

grossly underestimates the extent of school crime because it is based upon limited research

surveys, not actual reported crime incidents" (p. 19).

Ken Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Service, calls the federal

report misleading. He believes that "most experienced school safety professionals know that

school crime is under-reported to law enforcement and that there is no federal mandatory K-12

crime reporting and tracking law on the books" like there is for institutions of higher education

(Scarpa, 2005, p. 19). By keeping the crime statistics under-reported, principals can better

portray to the general public that their schools are safer than what is actually true. Trump also

questions whether it is good practice to handcuff, suspend, or expel students for minor

infractions if there is no reason to believe that this practice makes the educational environments

any safer.

Framework of the Study

More than 2,500 students drop out of high school each day as a result of expulsion or other

conditions (Kingsbury, 2006). In the United States, close to 1 million students leave school

without graduating each year, "costing the nation more than $260 billion in lost wages, taxes,

and productivity over the students' lifetimes" (p. 30). In addition, 4,400 juveniles are arrested

each day and "68% of the inmates in state prisons lack a high school diploma" (p. 30). Despite









these statistics, districts continue to remove students through the use of all-encompassing zero

tolerance policies.

Purpose of the Study and Research Questions

The purpose of the study was to determine differences in the Student Codes of Conduct

developed by large and small school districts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the

implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

To determine such differences, the following research questions were addressed:

1. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of Florida' s small and large districts
that include a definition of what the term zero tolerance means and how it relates to
discipline?

2. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
guns in their zero tolerance policies?

3. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
knives in their zero tolerance policies?

4. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
drugs in their zero tolerance policies?

5. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
bullying or harassment in their zero tolerance policies?

6. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
provisions allowing for students to attend alternative educational settings if they violate a
zero tolerance policy?

Based on the results of these findings, elements of a model Student Code of Conduct were

developed that incorporated the mandates of the Gun-Free School Act of 1994 as well as

recommendations for future studies addressing how school districts might reduce expulsions

with the intent of keeping more students in an educational setting and out of jail.

Significance of the Study

In 1995, one year after the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act (GFSA), the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 10% of students in grades 8-12









carried a weapon to school on a daily basis (Malico, 1995). The intent of the GFSA was to

reduce this type of statistic, yet in 2001 the Josephson Institute on Ethics conducted a similar

survey to the CDC survey and found that the percentage had risen to 14% (Erickson, Mattanini,

& McGuire, 2004). Even after a full Hyve years of implementation of zero tolerance policies and

the GFSA, the percentage of students carrying weapons to school actually increased while the

number of violent incidents appears to have decreased. According to these statistics, it appeared

that the GFSA was not a deterrent to bringing weapons to school and had not benefited school

districts as intended.

This research provides school districts and educational policy-makers with a description of

how the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 has been implemented in Florida. In addition, elements

of a model Student Code of Conduct were developed that incorporated the mandates of the Gun-

Free School Act of 1994 as well as recommendations for school districts to reduce expulsions

with the intent of keeping more students in an educational setting and out of jail. If Florida' s

school districts choose to adopt these elements, students will benefit by having more

opportunities to learn from their mistakes as well as having fewer suspensions and expulsions. If

these elements are adopted, parents and community members would also benefit by having more

youth in educational facilities and less in juvenile correctional facilities.

Limitations

The results of the study are based on research conducted by analyzing Student Codes of

Conduct from Florida' s 67 county public school districts. There are limitations to this study, the

first being that the results of this study cannot be generalized to other states. Although other

states may have similar structures that would support a comparison of their Student Codes of

Conduct to Florida' s Student Codes of Conduct, each state is unique in the laws and regulations

that guide local school districts. For example, some states have a multitude of school districts









within a single county. Other states have laws that restrict the usage of zero tolerance policies,

making a comparison between those states and Florida difficult to validate.

The second limitation is in the appropriate application of this study to Florida' s school

districts. By eliminating the use of K-5 and 6-8 Student Codes of Conduct, the researcher may

have inadvertently inflated the Eindings of the study. While the researcher did not code the

excluded Student Codes of Conduct, there is a possibility that the excluded Student Codes of

Conduct did not contain as many zero tolerance policies as the included Student Codes of

Conduct. This is based on the practice that districts create separate Student Codes of Conduct for

younger children with the intent of having fewer mandatory and less extreme parameters for

offenses than those applied to the secondary school environment.

The fact that 100% of the requested Student Codes of Conduct were provided to the

researcher greatly reduced the limitations placed upon the study. The researcher utilized the same

coding form for all 67 of Florida' s Student Codes of Conducts. This eliminated the risk of

recorder error in the data analysis procedures. By incorporating all available Student Codes of

Conduct in this study on Florida discipline policies, the policy analysis was strengthened by

using descriptive statistics instead of inferential statistics, eliminating the need to prove statistical

significance at a .05 level for any of the data provided. Each set of numbers and percentages

were factual because the researcher had the totality of information that was available to the

population.









CHAPTER 2
HISTORY OF ZERO TOLERANCE

The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between Florida' s small and

large school districts and the offenses in the zero tolerance policies found in their Student Codes

of Conduct. The purpose of this chapter was to present a review of literature pertaining to zero

tolerance policies, highlight current data and research regarding zero tolerance policies, and

present testimonies from experts in the Hield of school discipline as they relate to zero tolerance

policies. This review provided the necessary foundation to lay the theoretical and philosophical

framework for the study.

The Formation of a Zero Tolerance Definition

In November 1998 Jordan Locke, a Hyve-year-old attending Curtisville Elementary School

in Deer Lakes, Pennsylvania "was suspended for wearing a 5-inch plastic axe as part of his

firefighter' s costume to a Halloween party in his classroom" (Skiba, 2000). In their response to

upset firefighters who criticized the suspension, school officials drafted an "Open Letter to

Firemen Across the Country" stating "that they never intended to offend firefighters by referring

to the axe as a weapon, but defended the zero tolerance policy against weapons as fair" (p. 4).

In May 1999 a sophomore in Pensacola, Florida loaned her nail clippers with an attached

nail file to a friend. When the teacher saw this, she confiscated the clippers. The girl, aspiring to

be a doctor, was given a 10-day suspension by the principal and threatened with expulsion, with

the principal adding, "Life goes on. You learn from your mistakes. We are recommending

expulsion" (Skiba, 2000, p. 4).

There are other stories like these in Florida and throughout the United States. Websites are

dedicated to highlighting the injustices resulting from zero tolerance policies and calling for an

end to them (www.thisistrue.com, www.ztnightmares. com, www.texaszerotolerance. com). One










example of a non-violent youth whose life was forever changed as a result of a school district

enforcing a zero tolerance policies mandated by the GFSA of 1994 is of the high school senior in

Knoxville, Tennessee who was expelled in 1999 after a friend left a knife in his car (Potts, Njie,

Detch, & Walton, 2003). Apparently despondent after being expelled during his senior year in

high school, the student committed suicide. The parents of the boy sued the Knox County School

Board and eventually won their case when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the

expulsion was irrational and absent of any evidence that the student was aware of the knife's

presence in his car. The judge, however, did not challenge the existence of zero tolerance

policies. For some educational leaders, this holding reaffirmed their belief that there was nothing

wrong with zero tolerance policies. Other politicians and educational leaders in Tennessee,

however, began to question the decade-old federal law (Potts, Njie, Detch, & Walton, 2003).

Zero tolerance, as it relates to behavior and discipline, has been defined as "the policy or

practice of not tolerating undesirable behavior, such as violence or illegal drug use, with the

automatic imposition of severe penalties even for first offenses" (Potts, Njie, Detch, & Walton,

2003, p. 16). This definition provides an opportunity for school boards and principals to expand

the boundaries in which a behavior can be subjected to a zero tolerance policy simply by their

labeling the behavior undesirable. Having such an all-encompassing definition for zero tolerance

is the precise reason why so few lawyers will accept cases involving parents or students

challenging zero tolerance policies. Zero tolerance policies and definitions can be so

encompassing that judges often rule any behavior that school districts deem undesirable as

punishable behaviors that are within the legislative boundaries of the law and therefore subj ect to

severe penalties. In February 2001, the American Bar Association adopted a resolution opposing









all zero tolerance policies on the ground that the policies pay no "regard to the circumstances or

nature of the offense or the student' s history" (Potts, et al., 2003, p. 16).

The U. S. Department of Education defines zero tolerance weapons' policies in two

separate documents: Sec. 14601 of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA)--Gun-

Free Requirements (otherwise known as the GFSA of 1994, a component of the Improving

American' s Schools Act of 1994) and the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) Sec. 4141 of 2001

(Potts, et al., 2003). The GFSA defines the following:

each State receiving Federal funds under this Act shall have in effect a State law requiring
local educational agencies to expel from school for a period of not less than one year a
student who is determined to have brought a weapon to a school under the jurisdiction of
local educational agencies in that State, except that such State law shall allow the chief
administering officer of such local educational agency to modify such expulsion
requirement for a student on a case-by-case basis. (U. S. Department of Education, Office
of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, 2006, TI2)

Defining Zero Tolerance for Students with Disabilities

As outlined in the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, the U. S. Department of Education' s

definition of the term student does not include those youth protected under the Individuals with

Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)'s Individual Education Plans (IEP) as detailed in Special

Rule--part c of Section 14601 where it states, "Schools that have students with IEPs that bring

guns or knives to school are guaranteed due process procedures" (U. S. Department of Education,

2004). These proceedings may result in a return of the students to their regular educational

settings if the behavior was determined to be a manifestation of their disabilities as outlined in

their IEPs.

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004

Several changes were made to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in

2004. One of the more significant changes was the inclusion of the new section relating to

students with disabilities who violate their districts' Student Codes of Conducts. Prior to 2004,









the term Student Code of Conduct was not even mentioned in the IDEA. The new IDEA has

experienced a change in philosophy regarding how students with disabilities who inflict serious

bodily injury upon another person can be disciplined, introducing more of a zero tolerance

approach that is in direct conflict with the mentality that individual consideration should be given

to all students, the philosophy that the IDEA was founded upon.

There may be incidences when children with disabilities who are protected under the IDEA

threaten other children in the school with a weapon. In those cases, "school authorities can

unilaterally remove a child with a disability from the child's regular placement for up to 45 days

at a time" and may ask an impartial hearing officer to order subsequent extensions "if school

officials continue to believe that the child would be substantially likely to injure self or others if

returned to his or her regular placement" (U. S. Department of Education, 2004, p. 4). Another

change made by the Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act of 2004 specifically states

that,

a child with a disability who is removed from his or her current placement for disciplinary
reasons, irrespective of whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the
child's disability, must be allowed to participate in the general education curriculum,
although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting his or her IEP goals. (Office of
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Education, 2006, p. 17)

It is important to note that students with disabilities can still be expelled, and in some states,

those expulsions make up a considerable percentage of the students who are expelled each year

(U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, School Survey on

Crime and Safety, 2000).

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001

The 2001 NCLB Act clarifies that students must be expelled for possessing a gun in school

(such as in a backpack) but not necessarily just for bringing a gun to school (such as having it in

the trunk of a car). NCLB still empowers local school districts to place stricter policies on their









students, an option that many districts are still inclined to accept as they appease parents and

school employees who demand safer schools (Potts, et al., 2003). Exceptions are sometimes

made when school-sponsored gun clubs require students to have a gun in order to participate, an

exception allowed by the GFSA.

Although the Gun-Free Schools Act did not become federal law until 1994, some states

already had zero tolerance laws in place, expelling students for offenses ranging from the

possession of weapons to disorderly conduct (Pipho, 1998). When the term zero tolerance first

entered in the vernacular of federal legislators, it was understood that the goal of enacting a zero

tolerance law was "to produce 'gun-free' schools" (p. 725). Including an actual definition of

zero tolerance in the federal legislation may not have seemed necessary at the time because the

legislators supported the same goal, but the fact that the Gun-Free Schools Act allowed for

expansions to the law has greatly transformed not only what zero tolerance means from state-to-

state, but in most cases, what it means from district-to-di strict. As it is written in the Gun-Free

Schools Act,

the term weapon in the federal law does not include knives or common fireworks, though a
state law implementing the federal act may use a broader definition of weapon that does
include knives. The federal definition of weapon does include guns, bombs, grenades,
rockets, and missiles. (Pipho, 1998, p. 725)

The result is that a zero tolerance policy in one district often times is completely different

than the zero tolerance policy in the neighboring district.

The media have highlighted districts that have overly broad policies, "picking up on stories

in which the penalty appeared more serious than the infraction" (Pipho, 1998, p. 726). With

differing definitions of zero tolerance from district to district and state to state, there sometimes

is confusion from both students and parents as to what exactly it means for their district to have a

zero tolerance policy (Pipho, 1998). Some districts explicitly define the term zero tolerance as









well as the offenses that result in mandatory punishments, while other districts simply include a

statement that they have a zero tolerance policy, yet do not define what that policy includes.

Origins of the Term Zero Tolerance

Different sources credit the origins of the term zero tolerance in everyday American

vocabulary. Although it may have been used prior to 1982, the first time the term zero tolerance

was ever published in reference to a guaranteed punishment was in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly

article by James Wilson and George Kelling entitled "Broken Windows: Police and

Neighborhood Safety" (Potts, et al., 2003). This article discussed a change in mentality of the

Newark, New Jersey police department. The theory was, "if a broken window in a building is not

repaired, it sends the signal that no one cares about its maintenance and that soon all the

windows in all the building will be broken" (p. 2). This article prompted other police

departments to adopt zero tolerance policies even for mild displays of disorderly behavior

because the belief was this behavior was a "precursor to more serious crime" (p. 2).

Other sources indicate that it was not until 1983 that the term zero tolerance was actually

used in an official government policy. The policy was enacted by the U.S. Navy to combat drug

usage by its sailors (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). In 1983 the Navy enforced its zero tolerance for

drugs by reassigning over 40 sailors because of their suspected drug abuse. In 1986 it became the

official name of a program enacted by U.S. Attorney Peter Nunez of San Diego, requiring the

impoundment of any sea craft carrying or transporting any amount of drugs. The program was

such a success that in 1988 U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese promoted the program as a

national model. He ordered all customs officials to seize the vehicles and property of anyone

crossing the border into the United States with even trace amounts of drugs. Those individuals

were charged with a federal crime (Skiba, 2000).









The success of these programs encouraged educational leaders and legislators to try the

same types of policies in their increasingly dangerous public schools (Skiba, et al, 2006). There

was, however, no research as to the effect such policies would have on adolescents, nor was

there any consideration as to the appropriateness in having ultimate consequences for first time

offenders. While it can be argued that rational adults would be deterred from certain activities if

they knew those activities held dire consequences, no studies were conducted as to whether

children were capable of understanding the repercussions of zero tolerance policies (Skiba, et al,

2006). In fact, research published in 2006 by the American Psychological Association's (APA)

Taskforce on Zero Tolerance policies concluded that adolescents before the age of 15 were

psychologically incapable of understanding the full significance of their actions as they relate to

a mandated punishment.

The APA report referenced many studies that supported the idea that zero tolerance

policies were not appropriate for the mindset of adolescents:

adolescents before the age of 15 display psychosocial immaturity in at least four areas
relevant to social contexts such as those found in schools: resistance to peer influence,
attitudes toward and perception of risk, future orientation, and impulse control... They tend
to weigh anticipated gains more than losses when making decisions (e.g., Hooper, Luciana,
Conklin, & Yarger, 2004). Young adolescents tend to be much less future-oriented than
older adolescents and adults. They tend to discount the future when making choices
(Greene, 1986) and to focus more on short-term rather than on the long-term risks and
benefits of their decisions (Grisso, et al., 2003). Finally, developmental studies on
behavioral control indicate that younger adolescents are less able to evaluate situations
before acting, which is in part due to greater difficulty they have in regulating their moods
(Cauffman & Steinberg, 2000; Luna, Garve, Urban, Lazar, & Sweeney, 2004). (Skiba, et
al., 2006, p. 67)

A lack of research in early the 1990s and a lack of understanding on the effects that zero

tolerance policies would have on students did not deter school districts across the country from

adopting them. School districts in California and Kentucky began implementing zero tolerance

policies for gangs and weapons as early as 1989 (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). New York followed









by implementing zero tolerance policies mandating expulsion for any students involved in

fighting, drugs, or gang-related activity (violent or non-violent) (Skiba, 2000). Across the

country school boards adopted zero tolerance policies that resulted in expelling students for

activities ranging from smoking to school disruption. The Superintendent of Yonkers School

System in the State of New York applied zero tolerance policies to any student who disrupted the

learning process, giving schools the freedom to expel any student for just about any disturbance

(Verdugo, 2002).

In 1994, President Clinton signed the GFSA (McAndrews, 2001). According to Secretary

of Education Richard W. Riley, "when our children and their families are afraid to go to and

from school and afraid to be in school, learning obviously suffers" (Malico, 1995, TI 4). In a

directive to Riley from Clinton, the President stressed "the paramount importance that this

nation's schools be safe, disciplined, and conducive to learning," asking Riley to work with local

authorities to help ensure that zero tolerance policies are adopted (TI 6). The federal government

was going to get tough on violence in schools, prompted by the newly won Republic maj ority in

the House of Representatives and supported by the Democratic president (Malico, 1995).

One of the most influential pieces of research that was published shortly after the adoption

of the GFSA was a 1995 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

These research findings quantified the seriousness that guns and violence were posing on

communities. The survey results determined that, on a daily basis, "more than one in 10 students

in grades 8-12 carried some kind of weapon to school" (Malico, 1995, TI7). This corresponded to

the 1993 survey already conducted by the Education Department' s National Center for Education

Statistics that found that "one-quarter of students in grades 6-12 worried about becoming

victims of crime or threats while at school and at least one in eight students had been victimized









while on school property" (TI 8). The same year that survey was conducted, a University of

Michigan study revealed that only 5% of students attended schools equipped with metal detector

(Stone-Palmquist, 2004).

School districts were not given additional funding to implement zero tolerance policies.

Instead, they were offered guidance by the U. S. Department of Education. In addition, the same

Congress that authorized the GFSA voted to cut $500 million in funding for the Safe and Drug-

Free Schools Program, resulting in a 60% decrease in federal funds to states for a program that

was designed to make schools safer (Malico, 1995).

The GFSA mandated that those states that did not pass and enact legislation consistent

with the GFSA by October 20, 1995 would "risk losing funding for programs authorized under

the Elementary and Secondary Education Act" (Malico, 1995, TI 12). Again, as funding for

programs that promoted safer schools decreased, states were expected to decrease violence in

their public schools. The result of these legislative maneuvers was that states adopted new laws

and policies that mandated the expulsion of students, policies that were inexpensive to

implement. They were not, however, required to provide those students with alternative

educational settings. Florida law outlines that an alternative education placement can be made for

the expelled students if it is determined that the alternative setting can meet the educational,

emotional, and social needs of the students (Florida State Legislator, 2005); as of yet, there is no

system or procedure in Florida designed to determine if those needs or educational standards are

being met by the alternative settings.

Current Zero Tolerance Policies

Enactment and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance Policies

Two states that enacted zero tolerance policies immediately following the passage of the

GFSA of 1994 were Tennessee and Florida. Florida State Law 1006. 13 mandates the following:









the zero tolerance policy shall require students found to have committed one of the
following offenses to be expelled, with or without continuing educational services, from
the student' s regular school for a period of not less than 1 full year, and to be referred to
the criminal justice or juvenile justice system: a) bringing a firearm or weapon to school, to
any school function, or possessing a firearm at school, and b) making a violent threat or
false report involving school or school personnel's property, school transportation, or a
school-sponsored activity. (Florida State Legislature, 2005, Public Law 1006.13)

The legislation continues by stating, "although education and prevention are the preferred means

of achieving safe schools, there must be a clear statement of policy that violence in schools will

not be permitted" (1006. 13). The State of Florida, however, does not offer guidelines for a

curriculum that districts can follow regarding the education and prevention of violence. It is each

district' s responsibility to decide if they are going to facilitate alternative education facilities or

programs and how they are going to operate them.

The law also states that Florida mandates all principals "monitor the administration of

discipline of students to ensure that discipline is administered equitably without regard to real or

perceived gender, race, religion, color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin,

political beliefs, marital status, age, social and family background, linguistic preference, or

disability" (Florida State Legislature, 2005, 1006. 13). The lack of equitability in Florida with

regard to race has recently been questioned and highlighted in the 2005 NAACP report published

in conjunction with the Advancement Proj ect, along with many other reports and dissertations

published in the past five years (Skiba, et al., 2006; Gregory, 1997). The lack of equitability in

zero tolerance policies was also highlighted in 1995 when the General Assembly for the State of

Tennessee surpassed Florida when it enacted a new law that "required a student who is in

possession of a weapon, a controlled substance, or who committed battery against a [public

school] employee be expelled for at least one calendar year" (Potts, et al., 2003, p. 2). The

Comptroller of the Treasury for the State of Tennessee was commissioned to conduct and

compile an annual report for the state legislature on the implementation of the new policy. The










Comptroller reported that, even though the number of students enrolled in Tennessee public

schools is decreasing, the number of students expelled as a result of zero tolerance policies is

increasing. This led the General Assembly members to believe that there were a higher

percentage of students with discipline and emotional problems entering the public school

systems or that the zero tolerance policies were used for quick solutions to a variety of discipline

1SSUeS.

In reviewing a specific school board policy regarding zero tolerance, the Chicago Public

Schools (CPS)-the nation's third largest public school system--has included the term zero

tolerance in their "Uniform Discipline Code" since August 1995 (Chicago Board of Education,

1995). The school board' s use of the term, though, is quite different from other school districts.

Their zero tolerance policy does not necessarily imply an automatic punishment. In their "Policy

Statement," CPS states "a Zero Tolerance Policy will be enforced for students who commit acts

of misconduct which seriously disrupt the orderly educational process" (p. 4) and "those who are

found to possess illegal drugs, firearms, or other dangerous weapons will be suspended

immediately and face possible expulsion" (p. 4). The phrase "face possible expulsion" is used

instead of "will face expulsion." The Uniform Discipline Code states that the "use, possession,

and/or concealment of a firearm/destructive device" will result in "police notification and/or

arrest, suspension for 10 days, and expulsion for a period of not less than one calendar year, or as

modified on a case-by-case review by the Chief Executive Officer or designee" (p. 9).

The zero tolerance policies in Chicago are structured so that, instead of automatic

expulsion, students are suspended and given a hearing where an appropriate punishment can be

determined. If it were determined that the student knowingly brought the drugs or firearms to

school in order to do harm, the GFSA may be used as the impetus for expulsion. The difference









between Chicago' s policy and other school district policies is that the intent of the infraction is

examined. There are no automatic expulsions; instead, educational administrators must review

the situation and circumstances and make appropriate decisions based on those facts. The school

board, however, continues to use the term zero tolerance so that they can present themselves as

being in alignment with the federal guidelines.

Expert Opinions on Zero Tolerance Policies

Currently over 90% of U. S. public school districts have some type of zero tolerance policy

in place that extends the scope of the GFSA, while all 50 states now have zero tolerance policies

mentioned somewhere in their state laws (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). Many educational leaders

have questioned if the reason zero tolerance policies are still in place is that they truly deter

violence or if they are an easy way for educational leaders to expel students who traditionally

perform poorly on standardized tests (McAndrews, 2001). Expelling disruptive students who

perform poorly in school can result in an increase of the school's overall performance because

discipline offenders are often low achievers (McAndrews, 2001). In the case of Florida, a

school's actual letter-grade may increase if enough low performers are removed. With research

indicating that zero tolerance policies "are neither effective in reducing violent behavior in

children nor implemented in a manner that is child-centered or equitable" (Verdugo & Glenn,

2002, p. 2), some would wonder if the reason they are still so prevalent is so that principals have

easy ways to rid low-performing students from their schools (McAndrews, 2001).

Peterson (personal communication, April 22, 2005) stated that there is no federal database

available that tracks students who are suspended or expelled; this is strictly delegated to local

school boards and some state boards of education. In addition, even though there has been

research conducted that proved similarities and differences between suspensions and

incarcerations, Peterson believes it is not possible to prove what influence, if any, zero tolerance










policies have on incarcerations themselves. What needs to be considered is whether or not these

youths would still have been incarcerated in the course of their lifetime, even if they had not

been suspended or expelled as a result of a zero tolerance policy while in school. Peterson

realizes that this cannot easily be answered because of the numerous mitigating circumstances

that surround most incarcerations of juveniles.

Peterson (personal communication, April 22, 2005) also stated that research has

demonstrated the effectiveness of anger-management programs in reducing the expulsion rate in

schools. His program, Safe and'Responsive Schools (SRS), is one that offers several levels of

anger-management and behavior modification awareness that school districts can adopt

(Peterson, 2005). He referenced the Harvard Civil Rights Proj ect Study (Skiba, 2003) that

showed a reduction in the number of referrals, suspensions, and absentees after enacting

alternative programs to zero tolerance discipline policies.

Skiba (personal communication, May 2, 2005) believes that many educational leaders

adopted the idea that even the smallest infractions must be given the strictest punishments so as

to send a message to the rest of the student body that the administration was tough on violence.

He also believes that the federal zero tolerance policies mandated by the Gun-Free Schools Act

were based on assumptions that were never tested in 1994 and still have yet to be tested today.

Skiba highlighted the lack of research regarding zero tolerance policies in his work with both the

Harvard' Civil Rights Project (Skiba, 2003) and the American Psychological Association 's Zero

Tolerance Taskforce (Skiba, Reynolds, Graham, Sheras, Conoley, & Garcia-Vazquez, 2006).

Effects of Zero Tolerance Policies on Student Behavior

Students expelled from their schools for violating zero tolerance policies may eventually

enroll in camps like those sponsored by the National Guard. Joe Jones, Cadet Coordinator for

Youthcare at the Florida Youth Challenge (FYC) facility at Camp Blanding in Florida, facilitates










a program for 12-16 year-olds who are in need of behavior modification as deemed by either

themselves and/or their parents. Jones (personal communication, May 2, 2005) said the center is

neither a juvenile detention center nor a j ail. It accepts students who have been in misdemeanor

trouble, with most of their cadets having been expelled from their local public schools as a direct

result of violating a zero tolerance policy (if the expulsion involved a weapon, the felony charge

must be dropped by the time they enter the FYC).

The Florida Youth Challenge is a viable option for many students who, for a variety of

reasons, do not find success in their regular educational setting. Florida Youth Challenge, located

on the grounds of Camp Blanding near Starke, Florida, is one of 15 National Guard Youth

Challenge Academies sponsored in the United States, with 23 more states on the National

Guard's waiting list, as highlighted in April 24, 2006 by U.S. News & World Report (Kingsbury,

2006). Their success derives from the fact that,

the teaching at the academies is strictly organized. Cadets take one section of the high
school equivalency test at a time, focusing on reading, writing, and math. The testing
method, which pairs an adult education model with the military's instructional system,
works. Nationwide, 70% of the students in the Challenge program earned their general
equivalency diplomas. That' s nearly double the 41% pass rate of other adult education
programs. And cadets earn theirs in half the time-improving an average of two grade
levels in reading and math in only 5 V/2 months in class, for example. The cost of educating
a cadet is 85% less than that of educating a high school student-and far less than the cost
of juvenile incarceration. (Kingsbury, 2006, p. 31)

Both successful and cost-effective, the academies have become viable alternatives to simply

expelling children from regular education settings.

When asked why he believes so many youth still violate zero tolerance policies even

though they are well aware the consequence is expulsion, Jones explained that,

most kids don't take any responsibility for being expelled. They feel they've been set-up
and are scared of the consequences only after they've done something. Not one student
that I work with ever weighed the consequences of his or her actions before committing the
offense. (personal communication, May 2, 2005)









Jones, an African-American male and former U. S. Marine, believes that part of the blame for

this mentality are the community values that many of his students come from, specifically poor

African-American and Caucasian families. Over the course of several years working with such

families, Jones sees a trend in that many parents believe the system is to blame, either because

administrators are picking on their children or that certain teachers were disrespecting their child.

Jones believes that some parents do not help reinforce responsibility in their children for the

inappropriate actions they commit, and that some parents actually believe the consequences

should not apply to their children even though their children are guilty.

Jones (personal communication, May 2, 2005) spoke about the high percentage rate of

students who, even after showing progress in their nine-month behavior modification program

and demonstrating a renewed interest in leading an honest life, fell back into gangs and

unhealthy social circles once they returned to their local neighborhoods. He does not, however,

view this as a failure in the program because he believes that, instead of having 30% of his

graduates end up in jail by the time they are 21 years-old (Jones, personal communication, May

2, 2005), he believes that percentage would be closer to 100% if FYC did not exist. In addition,

Jones is quick to point out that there is a three-year waiting lior a ithr over 300 names of students

who are trying to get one of the 150 seats available in the upcoming classes of cadets. The

funding sponsors of Jones' program include the Florida National Guard, the Department of

Defense, and the Departments of Education in Tallahassee and Washington, DC. To the

sponsors, the long waiting list is an apparent sign that their program is filling a void for students

who have been suspended or expelled as a result of violating zero tolerance policies in their

districts.









Rethinking Zero Tolerance Policies

Referring once again to the annual report compiled by the Comptroller of Treasury for the

State of Tennessee in regard to the implementation of zero tolerance policies in that state, Ethel

Detch, Director of the Office of Education Accountability for Tennessee, published in 2003 a

synopsis of the "recent thinking about zero tolerance" and presented it to the State's General

Assembly and the Governor. After communicating with her to clarify some of the key points

made in the report, Detch (personal communication, May 2, 2005) reiterated that,

despite the policies' widespread prevalence in the United States, zero tolerance may be
falling out of favor among some educators and education researchers. It could be argued
that success with zero tolerance policies should result in yearly decreases in zero tolerance
violations; instead in Tennessee the numbers have climbed at a faster rate than student
enrollment. Some educators claim zero tolerance has become a 'catch-all' that
administrators use to rid themselves of difficult students.

Reversing long-standing campaigns aimed at keeping at-risk children in school, two

experts believe zero tolerance policies are designed to seek and identify troublesome or

potentially troublesome students and get them out of school (Blumenson & Nilson, 2003). Eric

Blumenson of Harvard Law School and Eva Nilsen of Boston University attempted to answer the

complex question of why, if zero tolerance is falling out of favor among educators and

researchers, does the federal and state governments still support it? First, to many parents

disillusioned with the Columbine-like violence of the 1990s, isolation of bad students seems a

safer bet than rehabilitation. Secondly, Blumenson and Nilsen believe that teachers and

administrators have a number of incentives to retain zero tolerance policies in their schools:

federal aid is contingent on mandatory expulsions for weapon offenses; teachers are loathe to

abandon a policy that efficiently rids the classroom of troublemakers; and school administrators

benefit because expelled students are often low achieving students who score poorly on the

standardized tests that are increasingly used to evaluate their schools (and sometimes their own










performance as administrators). In addition, Florida's teachers who work in high performing

schools (sometimes called "A" Schools) get financially compensated for their students'

performance on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT), and starting in 2007 will

even earn merit pay bonuses as approved by Governor Jeb Bush (Kaczor, 2006).

Blumenson and Nilson (2003) believe that long gone are the days when suspensions or

expulsions were saved for either the most serious offenses or for repeat offenders, adding that

"the new zero tolerance policy imposes expulsion or suspension for a wide rate of other conduct

that previously would have been dealt with through after-school detentions, withdrawals of

privileges, counseling, mediation, and other methods" (p. 69). For example, in Connecticut's

public schools, "for kindergarten alone, the rate of suspensions/expulsions almost doubled over a

two-year period from 463 in 2001-2002 to 901 reported for the 2002-2003 school year"

(Gordon, 2003, p. 1). Gordon states that the students were suspended and expelled for such

things as "fighting, defiance, and temper tantrums," behaviors that are commonly found to be

true with any 5-year-old students (p. 1). The article poses two questions for the reader: (a) who

should be deciding that kindergarteners need to be suspended; and (b) is the Connecticut version

of a 5-year-old really more violent than any other states' children?

A leading expert in both mainstream American and Hispanic educational research, Tobin

McAndrews' article Zero-Tolerance Policies has been influential in both the English-speaking

and Spanish-speaking communities regarding evaluation of the perception of zero tolerance

policies (McAndrews, 2001). McAndrews cites a 2000 National Center for Education Statistics

(NCES) study that determined zero tolerance policies had little effect over a four-year

implementation period in previously deemed unsafe schools. The study also reports that the

current data do not demonstrate a decrease in school-based violence since the passage of the









GFSA. His belief is that "the popularity of zero tolerance policies may have less to do with their

actual effect than the image they portray of schools taking resolute measures to prevent

violence," adding that "whether the policies actually change student behavior may be less

important than the reassurance it gives the school community at large" (p. 6). This belief is

supported by a 1999 study conducted by Diane Ravitch for the Washington, DC based Brookings

Institute, who concluded that the image of being tough on crime in schools was more important

than whether or not student behavior was actually being modified (Ravitch, 1999).

An additional report that attempted to review the effectiveness of zero tolerance policies

was conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in 2003:

in contrast to the 3,523 firearms reported as confiscated under the Gun-Free Schools Act
in the 1998-1999 school year, school surveys indicate that an estimated 3% of the 12th
grade population (i.e., 85,350 students) reported carrying firearms on school property one
or more times in the previous 30 days. Thus, even if only 12th grade students carry
firearms, fewer than 4.3% of firearms are being detected in association with the Gun-Free
Schools Act. (Hahn & Bilukha, 2003, p. 20)

The results of this survey proved that schools, despite having zero tolerance in place for nine

years, still have students bringing guns to school, implying that the goal of eradicating guns from

schools with the use of zero tolerance policies had failed.

Hyman and Snook (1999) describe the abusive nature of zero tolerance policies on

otherwise non-violent children in their 1999 book titled Dangerous Schools: What We Can Do

about the Physical and Emotional Abuse of Children. Their belief is that educational leaders

should stop criminalizing student behavior in schools because they are turning what should be an

educational experience into a punishment-orientated culture where all children are presumed

guilty until they are proven innocent, a paradox for the way in which adults are treated in our

society. Hyman and Snook express their professional opinion that the only solution to reforming

zero tolerance policies is to zero them out [of the schools].









In Florida, Juvenile Judge J. Michael Traynor sees 400 to 450 juveniles a week in his St.

Augustine courtroom (Prior, 2005). Traynor believes that,

in some ways, the schools and parents have turned to the courts for things that maybe in
prior years would have been handled at home or in school. I believe it is because schools
are reluctant to use any punishment other than .. suspension or alternative schools. Some
students aren't receptive to that type of discipline. In addition, there are parents who are
unable to discipline their children, and they look to the courts for assistance. (p. 6)

As judges see an increase in the juvenile cases in their courtrooms, school boards across the

country are calling for yet harsher punishments for misbehaving students, a dilemma many

educational leaders must face when deciding whether or not to suspend students (Arndorfer &

James, 2005). The reason derives from the fact that school boards feel they are faced with an

even more pressing issue: retaining teachers. Arndorfer and James reported the findings from a

2004 Public Agenda survey of teachers, stating that "more than one in three teachers said they

had considered leaving the profession because of student discipline" (p. 5A). This problem is

accentuated for school districts serving low socio-economic populations that already have a hard

time recruiting and retaining teachers.

Recent Changes in Zero Tolerance Policies

With the increased momentum that zero tolerance policies were having in primary and

secondary schools during the late 1980s and early 1990s, their popularity decreased in the areas

that initially made them common. For example, the U.S. Customs Service discontinued its

practice of impounding vehicles and vessels because of the controversy due to the numerous

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuits that were filed against it (Verdugo & Glenn,

2002). The U.S. Customs officials that made the programs popular in the late 1980s realized that

policies with automatic punishments were not only ineffective in changing behavior, but were

also fundamentally unjust and most likely unconstitutional (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003).









In addition, the State of Texas, with the support of Texas Governor Perry and State

legislators, reformed the way in which zero tolerance policies would be enforced in Texas

starting with the 2006-2007 school year (Crowley, 2007). In keeping with the federal guidelines

that mandate someone who brings a gun to school be expelled for no less than 365 school days,

Texas lawmakers passed legislation of their own that mandates all zero tolerance policies must

include an investigation by the educational leadership of the district (principal, superintendents'

office, etc.) as to the intent of bringing the obj ect to school (Skiba, et al., 2006). Following the

decision from the legislators to reform Texas' zero tolerance laws, Marc Levin, the, director of

the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said:

we applaud the Legislature for making much needed reforms to Texas' zero tolerance law.
During this session, we learned of exemplary students who were expelled to a juvenile
justice facility for unintentional mistakes, such as unknowingly bringing a pocket knife to
school that was left in a jacket after hunting the day before or taking prescription pain
relief medication at lunch. This legislation clarifies that expulsion is not required in such
circumstances. It will restore common sense to the system by allowing school
administrators to consider the intent and prior disciplinary of such students, if any, in
determining the appropriate punishment. (Texas Public Policy Foundation, TI 2)

Those that believe zero tolerance policies have overstepped their limits are watching Texas'

educational leaders as they attempt to restore common sense into their discipline policies.

Alternatives to Zero Tolerance Punishments in Florida

Alternatives already exist for those seeking to rely less on automatic punishments for

behaviors. Throughout the country, some school boards and committees are dedicating more

time to finding other options to zero tolerance policies (Arndorfer & James, 2005). One such

alternative program is between the University of Florida and the University of Oregon known as

Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PB S), funded by the U. S. Department of

Education and until July 2006 facilitated in Florida by University of Florida professor Terry










Scott. Scott (personal communication, May 2, 2005) promotes the theory that, "when you have

zero tolerance, you have zero options."

Of the many programs developed as alternatives to suspensions, Scott' s program is one of

the few based on hard data. His work places him in schools across the United States and Canada

where he leads on-site training to help the administration and faculty discover the multitude of

alternatives to automatically suspending or expelling students by asking teachers to use a

standardized referral system so that they can see where the problem areas exist in their school.

Highlighting the successes he found in implementing the program in Alachua County, Florida,

Scott said that several PBS programs in middle and high schools found very high approval

ratings from the parents, faculty, students, and educational leaders (personal communication,

May 2, 2005).

While supporting alternatives to suspensions and expulsions, Scott explained in a 2005 The

Gainesville Sun article that he believes "suspension is still a necessary component to a school's

'bag of tricks'," adding that it should be used when the safety of other students and school

personnel is at issue so as to remove and separate the dangerous student from the situation

(Arndorfer & James, 2005, p. 5A). He continues by saying "for lesser offenses, sometimes

suspension can make things worse .. because sometimes kids do those behaviors because they

do not want to be in school" and they know they will be allowed to go home if they act out (p.

5A). This eliminates the deterrence factor that is the fundamental philosophy and component

behind suspensions and expulsions. Instead of decreasing unwanted behavior, the threat of

suspension or expulsion may actually increase it as a form of positive reinforcement. Scott

(personal communication, May 2, 2005) said the purpose of PB S is "to create environments that









don't have to result in suspensions or expulsions" by developing school-wide agreements on

appropriate behavior.

A second alternative to automatic suspensions and expulsions is the Safe and Responsive

Schools program developed and co-directed by Skiba and Peterson. This program differs from

PBS in that, instead of focusing on one main discipline problem, the program emphasizes

different levels of misbehavior, with each level having a different consequence to the action. For

example, minor disruptions in the classroom may have the consequence of having the student' s

parent come sit beside the student for a day (Peterson, 2005). The advantage to this type of

program is that it fosters a new level of discipline and respect between teachers and students that

result in an increase in understanding between both parties of what is expected behavior. Like

Scott' s program, this program can also be modified to address specific needs in the educational

community .

In the spring of 2005, an entire edition of Educational Leadership highlighted how schools

can improve, with a major aspect being their discipline policies. One alternative to zero tolerance

policies is found in the Kentucky Instructional Discipline and Support (KIDS) Proj ect, a program

developed by the Kentucky Department of Education in association with a behavior management

program called Foundations: Establishing Positive Discipline Policies (McCloud, 2005). Instead

of assigning the typical punishment intended to exclude misbehaving students from the school

community through suspension and expulsions, the KIDS Proj ect aims to install a new

management system in schools that creates a level of mutual respect between students

themselves and between teachers and students (McCloud, 2005).

Prior to the implementation of the KIDS Proj ect, T. C. Cherry Elementary School in

Bowling Green, Kentucky dispensed 880 disciplinary referrals in the 1997-1998 school year and









was in the 56th percentile for the norm-referenced standardized test used in Kentucky (McCloud,

2005). In the 2002-2003 school year, three years after the KIDS Proj ect was implemented in the

school, there were only 30 disciplinary referrals, compared to the 880 previously administered,

and the students' average score rose to the 78th percentile, earning Cherry Elementary the

distinction of becoming a U. S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School (an honor awarded

to only 233 schools across the nation that year). Since the three years of implementation, both the

teachers and students surveyed say that there has been a positive increase in the school climate

with a corresponding decrease in the number of referrals to the office for disciplinary reasons

(McCloud, 2005).

The principal of Cherry Elementary claims that encouraging good behavior has become

just as important as discouraging bad behavior, with the implementation of a reward system that

recognizes positive behaviors and improvements (McCloud, 2005). The faculty and educational

leaders discovered that they enjoyed their jobs much more when they focused their energy on

proactive, positive approaches to student behavior instead of, as the principal says, "the typical

detentions, suspensions, and expulsions that tend to be more reactive, punitive, and exclusionary

.. than they are educational" (p. 47). While the principal is the first to admit that not all of the

problems have magically disappeared, she does state that there is a new sense of ownership of

one's behavior and achievements, something that had been lacking at her school prior to the

KIDS Proj ect.

One other alternative to expelling students out onto the streets through the use of zero

tolerance policies involves accepting the fact that not all kids are suited for the same, traditional

learning environment. Realizing that some children can not handle all of the pressures and

stimuli found in the large public schools that are prevalent throughout Florida, incorporating









more options like the Florida Youth Challenge (FYC) program into Florida' s regular education

curriculum may keep more children in learning environments and fewer children in the juvenile

justice systems or simply off the streets. Even Florida' s parochial schools are beginning to

entertain the idea that not all children succeed in the traditional classroom, as demonstrated by

the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine's CanpRisk program (Marywood Retreat Center, 2005).

Programs like Ca~npRisk combine low student/teacher ratios with "fun and games,

workshops presented by Florida State-certified guidance counselors, and lessons on faith,

friendships, parents, schools, and the world around the students" in a manner that fosters

ownership and responsibility for their own actions (Marywood Retreat Center, 2005). While

programs like FYC and CampRisk are sometimes labeled by educational leaders as Boot Camps

or Brat Camps (as popularized by ABC's 2006 television program titled Brat Ca~np), these

programs could become an avenue for keeping troubled and unmanageable children in a learning

environment while still following the guidelines of the Gun-Free Schools Act.

The purpose of implementing these types of programs or camps would not exclusively be

for corrective measure, but also for preventative ones. Both of these camps teach anger-

management skills and personal responsibility in addition to having state-certified faculty teach

the basic educational curriculum found in all of Florida' s schools. Unlike the juvenile justice

facilities in Florida that have recently received bad publicity for their physical abuse of children,

no physical restraining or force is used in the afore mentioned behavior modification programs

(Leary, 2006) Most educational leaders now believe that spanking or hitting children is not the

answer to modifying the behaviors of youth (Nordling, 1999). Everything taught in these

programs centers around changing one's mindset and accepting ownership for one's own









behavior instead of relying on prescribed zero tolerance guidelines that offer no direction for

children on how to live (Marywood Retreat Center, 2005).

In 1995, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Paul Vallas to be the city's first chief

executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools. Mr. Vallas, along with his chief education

officer Lynn St. James, unveiled a plan to create residential facilities within public schools for

children who are homeless, in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services, or

who have been suspended or expelled from their regularly zoned schools (Catalyst Chicago,

2006). St. James, the first African-American to hold her position in the Chicago Public Schools,

proposed implementing a residential-style program similar to the FYC as an alternative to

suspending and expelling students in Chicago. She believed that by expelling troubled youth

from their local public schools and sending them back into their communities would be more

detrimental to them and society because, unlike being in an educational setting, they would be

unsupervised and more likely to engage in inappropriate and illegal behavior. She felt so strongly

about the need to break the "schoolhouse-to-j ailhouse" trend that she asked the City of Chicago

to fully fund the program by building dormitories for the students so that they would not have to

return to their troubled neighborhoods at nights and on weekends (Catalyst Chicago, 2006).

What seemed like an advancement for educational leaders who wanted to avoid pushing

suspended students onto the street was interpreted by a small group of parents as a racist attempt

to force black males out of the general student population. Even though St. James was an

African-American herself, her proposal was received in an unflattering environment, one that

eventually led to the non-renewal of her contract one year after she had accepted her position.

This last alternative option, although proven effective in raising graduation rates and lowering

the percentage of students who eventually are incarcerated, is considered the most controversial









of all alternatives because of its stigma of being more a military camp or a detention center than

an educational setting.

Student Codes of Conduct

Discipline codes, "the heart of the legal approach to student discipline," are outlined in

each districts' Student Code of Conduct, documents that are available to the public (Brown &

Beckett, 2006, p. 241). These codes serve as guidelines for principals when enforcing district

discipline policy. One criticism of Student Codes of Conduct is that they "serve the

administrator' s purpose of being the authority to cite in support of disciplinary action" but they

offer "little guidance to students in defining what conduct is prohibited and punishable"

(Goldsmith, 1982, p. 188). Another criticism is that Student Codes of Conduct were often written

more than 20 years ago without any input from the parents of current students who actually

attended the schools (Brown & Beckett, 2006). Florida State Law requires that schools include a

policy in their Student Codes of Conduct that mandates students be expelled for no less than 365

days if a gun is brought to school. This is known as the zero tolerance against guns clause. The

State of Florida has given school districts the latitude to write their individual Student Codes of

Conduct, and thus, their own zero tolerance policies. The result is that some districts have zero

tolerance policies that mandate suspensions or expulsions for infractions such as the possession

of knives and drugs, while other districts' policies in Florida only include guns.

Elements of Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies

Reasons for why school districts decide to include certain elements in their zero tolerance

policies, while choosing to exclude other elements, are based on community values (Blumenson

& Nilsen, 2003). Some experts suggest that local community values influence districts' decisions

to include, for example, the carrying of knives as something that will not result in an automatic

suspension whereas other communities may demand that the school district has zero tolerance









for knives, thereby suspending or expelling a student who is found in the possession of one of

campus (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003). Whether it is because one community fosters an

environment where sports involving knives are more widely practiced (hunting, fishing, etc.)

versus another community where knives are more widely used in crimes (gang activity, drug

dealing, etc.), the expectations and values of community members often reflect on which

elements the school districts will decide to include when developing zero tolerance policies.

Other experts believe certain elements are included in zero tolerance policies as a result of

communities and school districts reacting to traumatic events that occurred either within their

districts or that occurred in other districts that were heavily reported by the national news (Skiba,

et al., 2006). For example, when there is a school shooting or when bullying has led to the death

or suicide of a student, community members call upon their local school districts to address how

effectively or ineffectively their own policies on guns or bullying are working. Yet others believe

that certain elements find their way into school districts' zero tolerance policies as a result of

litigation in the court system. When judges approve million dollar lawsuits to families whose

children have been affected by a discipline policy that the families believe was unfair or unjust,

school districts are quick to change their policies so that they are not the next district being

forced to pay millions in compensation.

An example of a judge' s influence on policy is the June 2006 decision by a federal judge to

award $1.6 million to families of 140 students who were subj ected to drug-sniffing dog searches

in a South Carolina High School (Marek, 2006). The much-publicized story, whose images were

taped using the school's own surveillance cameras and replayed on the nightly news in 2003,

depicted police officers with their guns drawn rounding up scared and crying students, subj ecting

them to drug searches while the principal stood nearby and watched (Marek, 2006). The










principal resigned soon after the incident because not a single drug was found on any of the

students, nor was an arrest made that day. Even though "no admission of wrong-doing was

included in the settlement, both the school and police have revamped their student search

policies" (Marek, 2006, p. 21).

In deciding which elements of zero tolerance to examine in this study, six variables

emerged from the literature review that were commonly included in school districts' discipline

policies in regard to mandatory, or automatic, punishments: (a) an inclusion of the definition of

the term zero tolerance, (b) the inclusion of a zero tolerance policy against guns, (c) the inclusion

of a zero tolerance policy against knives, (d) the inclusion of a zero tolerance policy against

drugs, (e) the inclusion of a zero tolerance policy against bullying, and (f) a description of a

place where students who were suspended or expelled could still go to receive educational

services, often called an alternative education setting. Each of these variables became their own

research question, with their own subsequent literature review to support their inclusion in this

study .

Defining the Term Zero Tolerance

Definitions reflect our language and understanding, acting as the common unifier between

thoughts and words. Dr. Friedgan (2003), Director of Data Cartography, Incorporated, reiterated

this belief in his publication titled, "Importance of Definitions" when he stated, "a government

organization must provide information to the general public. With all the external scrutiny, the

requirements on the quality of definitions are high"(TI 9). For a person to simply learn a new

word is not useful unless a corresponding definition of what that word means accompanies the

proper annunciation of the word. Two individuals may say the same word, but associate two

entirely different meanings to the word and apply the word in two circumstances that are

irrelevant or inconsistent with the other meaning.









There are a number of ways that Friedgan (2003) believes it is possible to acquire an

official definition for a new word. The most common is to find an influential sponsor of the new

word and persuade them to adopt the new word. This is sometimes accomplished through

celebrity status, with the new word becoming exclusively associated and attributed to that

particular celebrity (i.e. Paris Hilton, rapper Lil' John, etc.). Another common method is by

having an influential organization adopt the word, like a national non-profit organization or a

federal organization (i.e. National Education Association, U. S. Department of Justice, etc.). The

third is the "do-it-yourself' method, which usually entails an otherwise unknown individual

publishing a book or article that becomes popular, and thereby, popularizing the word or phrase

and the definition associated with its usage (The Tipping Point, Moving My Cheese, etc.)

School districts often use the same words in their Student Codes of Conduct but associate

different meanings to the words. For example, what one district considers a weapon or drug may

not be what another district would punish a student for possessing, even if both had policies

against the possession of weapons or drugs. The same applies for school districts' application of

the term zero tolerance. One district may apply the term loosely, stating that they have a zero

tolerance against violence in their district, but never defining for the reader what exactly that

means. Other districts may list specific offenses as "Zero Tolerance Offenses," but fail to provide

specific consequences for those offenses. Still other districts may list specific offenses that result

in suspension or expulsion, but choose not to categorize them as "Zero Tolerance Offenses."

Students are usually provided a hardcopy of their school's Student Code of Conduct at the

beginning of every school year. In many school districts, their parents must sign a letter and

return the letter to the school, signifying that they received a copy of the booklet and discussed it

with their children. The Student Codes of Conduct contain rules and procedures by which









students are bound to obey if they want to attend school in that district. In reading the Student

Code of Conduct, parents may read terms or phrases that they have heard used in the media and

in their community (i.e. firearms, weapons, zero tolerance, etc.), but they may not know how the

terms apply to the context of punishing their children. In order for terms used in policies to have

meaning to them, Friedgan (2003) contends that the "consumer" of the words must understand

the "overall constructs" that support the usage of the words (TI 12). Without understanding the

constructs, the words themselves have little or no meaning, resulting in the reader not

comprehending the text. Applying this logic to policies found in Student Codes of Conduct that

fail to define the term zero tolerance, the policies themselves, as well as the deterrence factor

that these policies are created to instill in students, have little meaning to the students or parents.

Guns

Under the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, in order for school districts to receive federal

education funds, their Student Codes of Conduct must have included a clause, usually referred to

as a zero tolerance clause but also sometimes referred to as an automatic or mandatory

punishment, which expelled students for no less than 365 days for having guns on campus. State

legislatures and school districts were quick to adopt this policy, most of them welcoming a

mandate that was uniform in nature. It removed potentially dangerous students from their schools

and it removed racial disparities that some educational leaders believed were present in the

dispensing of punishments (Skiba, 2003). Guns, however, still remain a concern for educational

leaders because they are still being brought into the schools.

The U. S. Department of Education' s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools published its

most recent report in February 2006 titled Report on the Implementation of the Gun-Free Schools

Act ofl~994 in the States and Outlying Area~s: School Year 2002-2003 which highlighted the fact

that, even after eight years of nation-wide policies which require mandatory expulsions for gun










possession, "a total of 2, 143 students were expelled from school for bringing a firearm to school

or possessing a firearm at school" (p. 9). The report also stated that 58% of the expulsions were

students in senior high school, 31% were in junior high, and 1 1% were in elementary school. The

statistical proportions of expulsions by weapons found in America' s schools during the 2002-

2003 school year were "55% of the expulsions were for bringing or possessing a handgun, 32%

were for some other type of firearm or other destructive device, such as bombs, grenades, or

starter pistols, and 13% of the expulsions were for bringing or possessing a rifle or shotgun to

school" (p. 9).

The report provided a state-by-state breakdown of students who were found to have

brought a firearm to school. In Florida there were 54 students that received expulsions during the

2002-2003 for carrying a gun to school, with one of those an elementary school student (U. S.

Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-free Schools, 2006). The number of

expulsions from the 2001-2002 school year was only 51. Therefore, despite eight years of zero

tolerance policies in Florida, the February 2006 report represented an increase in the number of

students bringing weapons to school in Florida, not a decrease like many proponents of zero

tolerance policies had expected.

Knives

In the 2002 survey conducted on 829 elementary and secondary education instructors,

approximately 50% of the secondary teachers said they had personally seen a knife on at least

one of their students within the past year while 17% of elementary teachers said they had

personally seen a knife on at least one of their students (Education Publishing Company, 2006).

These statistics only represent the knives that were on campus and actually seen by teachers,

excluding all of those not seen by teachers. Another study conducted in 2000 and performed

ancillary to the national School Crime and Safety Survey, focused exclusively on students who









brought weapons other than guns to school. This study revealed that knives were a bigger

concern to teachers than were guns (Corvo, 2000).

Drugs

The 2004 "Monitoring the Future" survey reported that drug usage is making a rebound,

the first signs that there is a slight increase in drug usage following 30 years of drug decreases

among Americas 8th graders (Chepesiuk, 2005). Even though this could result in some districts

implementing harsher discipline policies, educational psychologist Cecil Reynolds of Texas

A&M University promotes the belief that bringing aspirin to school is not the same as bringing

cocaine (Elias, 2006). He notes that students should not be punished as if they had committed the

same offense under the zero tolerance for drugs policies that are so prevalent across the nation, a

viewpoint he shared with other panel members at the 2006 American Psychological

Association' s (APA) August 2006 meeting (Elias, 2006). As a result of the conference, the

American Psychological Association issued an official statement condemning U.S. schools for

their zero tolerance drug and violence policies, claiming that the policies actually "may be

promoting misbehavior and making students feel more anxious" (p. 6d). The APA called upon

educational leaders to exercise "more flexibility and common sense in applying the policies,

reserving zero tolerance for the most serious threats to school safety" (p. 6d).

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reported in 2005 that students have

at their disposal more than 1,000 readily available products that can be used as inhalants, all of

which might result in students being suspended or expelled under some school districts' zero

tolerance policies Chepesiuk, 2005). The definition of a drug is difficult to determine when

anything from liquid correction fluid (commonly referred to as White-Out) or women' s

menstrual pain relievers (like Midol) have been used to expel students under the premise of

enforcing zero tolerance policies. While most districts have mandatory punishments for students










who possess heroin, cocaine, or other federally prohibited drugs, few districts actually define

what they consider to be a drug in their Student Code of Conduct, leaving no choice for

educational leaders to punish children when they find something such as an aspirin in students'

b ackp acks .

Bullying and Harassment

Educational leaders and teachers have the unique role of making personal connections and

shaping young students' attitudes beyond the academic scope of the classroom. This role places

them in loco parents, a position that requires them to do everything in their power to prevent

violent incidences on campus just as if they were the child' s parents protecting them from

violence outside of school. Violent incidences at school, however, can take many forms. Over

the past 20 years, bullying has become one of the main impetuses for student violence and

absenteeism from school. Between 1989 and 1995, "4% of high school students nationwide

missed at least one day of class during the 30 days prior to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance

Survey because they felt unsafe at or in route to or from school" (Young, Autry, Lee, Messemer,

Roach, & Smit, 2002, p. 107). The 2003 report Crime and Safety Surveys, published by the

National Center on Education Statistics (NCES), found that, during the 1999-2000 school year,

29% of schools reported having more difficulty with student bullying than with any other single

discipline problem (U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics,

2000).

A similar 2005 NCES report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, found that in 2003,

students' grade levels were inversely related to the likelihood that they would be bullied, with

14% of sixth-graders, 7% of ninth-graders, and 2% of 12th-graders reporting being bullied at

school (Christie, 2005). Overall, 7% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported that they

had been bullied at school in the last six months, up from 5% in 1999. Parents are increasingly









demanding that educational leaders accept the challenge of creating school cultures that are void

of bullying, a challenge that many districts across the nation have now accepted.

On September 13, 2006, Kimveer Gill walked onto the campus of Dawson College in

Montreal, Canada and indiscriminately began shooting at students (Couvrette, 2006). The police

investigation later discovered that Gill had acknowledged in his online blog that the bullying he

received growing up as an Indian-born Canadian contributed to his belief that "the vast majority of

people are worthless, no good, betraying, lying, and deceptive" (1 13). He continued in another blog

posting with the message, "Stop bullying. It's not only the bully's fault you know," adding that

teachers and principals are also to blame for "turning a blind eye," and police "for not doing anything

when people complain" (1 20). Gill's disassociation with society eventually led to him shooting one

college student to death and hospitalizing 19 others in what police describe as a "Columbine-Style

School Shooting" that occurred in the cafeteria (1 2). Gill was eventually shot dead by police in the

college cafeteria while he was hiding behind a vending machine.

Exactly one year to the day earlier in Illinois, on September 13, 2005 a 16-year-old female

student of Sandburg High School was beaten by other female students of Sandburg while being

videotaped in one of their homes. Following the day that the video of the beating became public, the

student was bullied daily because of the bad publicity the incident had given the school. She

continued to go to school with a sense of fear because she perceived few students were sympathetic

to her situation. The student's parents pressed criminal charges against the students who carried out

the videotaped beating (Greco, 2006).

Sandburg High School is one of three high schools in the Consolidated High School District

230, located in one of the affluent suburbs of Chicago, Illinois (School District Website, 2006). The

student, her mother, and New York Times best-selling author Jodee Blanoc, whose 2003 book,

Please Stop Laughing at Me: One Woman 's Inspirational Story detailed her years of being bullied,










beaten, and tormented while she was a student at Sandburg high school in the 1980s, made

impassioned pleas to the school board members on January 27, 2006 to enact an anti-bullying

program immediately. Since the beating, "the girl has been ridiculed on blogs" and has to "deal with

teachers being remiss" of her trauma (Greco, 2006). Blogs, on-line forums where students can type

messages to one another, have become another place where students can bully other students and

where threats, even to one's life, have become more prevalent since 2004 (Greco, 2006). Even

though the beating did not occur on school property, the district's school board members addressed

the issue by implementing a policy against bullying.

Educational leaders realize that, even when bullies make threats to other students outside of the

school environment, often times those threats are acted out in the school hallways, locker rooms,

cafeteria, or parking lots. Since the 1970s, the U. S. Department of Education (formerly the U. S.

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) has considered bullying problematic (Mooij, 2005).

Bullying is not a new phenomenon. In fact, most adults can recall who the bullies were in their

childhood days and who were the bullied. Unlike the bullied of the past that were intimated by others

for their lunch money and left with no recourse, today's youth that are bullied are retaliating in

sometimes violent and fatal ways. The total number of multiple-victim violent events occurring at

schools is on the rise, with the killers usually leaving notes or videos behind saying that they were

tired of being bullied (Young, et al., 2002). This creates new challenges for administrators when

identifying likely aggressors on their campuses.

This trend is coupled with the fact that data indicates girls, while usually in less "attention-

grabbing" ways, are as aggressive at bullying as boys (Dutton, 2003, p. 58). This is evident on

blogs and other forms of cyber-bullying where girls are 74% more likely than boys to "inflict

virtual abuse through instant messaging, online conversations, and e-mails" (Keith & Martin,

2005, p. 225). Data also indicate that people of both sexes tend to bully those of their same sex










(Sweeney, 2005). The Sandburg High School girls proved that female bullies are becoming a

force that educational leaders need to pay close attention to, in addition to the male bullies. In

order for educational leaders and school board members to effectively prevent violence at

schools, many districts are adopting zero tolerance policies for bullying in order to cease

bullying incidents both inside and outside of their schools.

Options for an Alternative Educational Setting

Zero tolerance is often viewed by its proponents as a teaching tool, relaying the message to

students and the community that students who misbehave will be removed from the regular

classroom environment (Skiba, 2003). It is not uncommon for parents of non-violent children, as

well as many teachers, to demand that violent children be removed from the regular classroom

settings so as to protect the other children. The dilemma then becomes a question of where to

place these children who could still benefit from an educational opportunity. Russell Skiba,

presenting his research at the 2006 American Psychological Association conference, testified

that, "there are growing signs that zero-tolerance policies are steering more teens into the

juvenile justice system" (Elias, 2006, p. 6d). Many experts do not believe this is an effective way

of modifying behavior (Noguera, 1995). In fact, research suggests that higher juvenile

incarceration rates predict higher rates of future misbehavior as adults and perpetuate violence

(Noguera, 1995), leading the panel of experts to believe that zero tolerance policies actually

result in more harm to the overall society than good.

Many school districts have invested their money in creating alternative educational

settings. These settings range from large facilities housed in once-condemned schools, to a few

classrooms in a designated part of a building. The U. S. Department of Education' s Office of Safe

and Drug-Free Schools (2006) reports that less than 35% of all expelled students have the

opportunity to attend an alternative educational setting (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). In









Florida, the rate is 57%, due to Florida's state law that "encourages districts to provide

educational services to expelled students in an alternative setting" as well as supporting "the

implementation of educational services in alternative settings as it relates to students who have

been expelled under the GFSA" (p. 36).

While Florida' s rate of 57% is much higher than the national average of 35%, it still leaves

approximately half of the students expelled with nowhere to go. The result of communities not

funding alternative educational settings available to help change the misbehavior of these

expelled students is that these students find themselves repeating the same misbehavior within

those same communities, often times resulting in the students becoming incarcerated and the

communities paying for them to live in juvenile detention centers or county prisons. This raises

the question as to whether or not it would be more beneficial for communities to invest their

resources in building alternative educational settings instead of continuing to expand their

juvenile correction facilities or in building more prisons.

Summary

The zero tolerance policies often implemented in schools today and mandated by the

GFSA are meant to punish and expel rather than to educate children on how to make better

choices (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). Zero tolerance policies, originally meant to keep guns out of

schools, have evolved into a series of broad, all-encompassing policies that now expel students

as young as 5-years-old for having temper tantrums in their kindergarten classrooms or for

bringing a toy axe to their kindergarten Halloween party. Schools, however, can have violent

students attend them and few educational leaders would argue against removing truly dangerous

students from their regular education settings in order to protect the teachers and the rest of the

student population. The failure of zero tolerance policies to keep guns out of schools 13 years

after the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act has led some educational leaders to










question their continued viability as more cases are exposed of non-violent children being

expelled or sent to juvenile detention facilities.









CHAPTER 3
THE STUDY

Overview of the Method

The purpose of the study was to determine differences in the Student Codes of Conduct

developed by Florida' s large and small school districts in response to zero tolerance policies

related to the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. The 67 districts were

divided into two categories based on student population, with the mathematically natural divide

being those districts over 15,000 students in one category (33 districts) and those districts with

fewer than 15,000 students in a second category (34 districts). Once the districts were classified

into two categories based on student populations, their policies were analyzed to discover the

similarities and differences. This study was designed to answer whether there are differences in

the content of the policies between Florida' s large and small districts as they pertain to zero

tolerance for discipline guidelines found in the Student Codes of Conduct. This study also sought

to develop elements of a model Student Code of Conduct that all school districts could

implement. This chapter contains an overview of how the policy analysis was conducted and the

methodology supporting the analysis.

Overview of the Study

The data collected were used to conduct a policy analysis following the guidelines

established by McMillian and Schumacher (2006) as well as Neuendorf (2002). McMillian and

Schumacher stated that "policy analysis evaluates government policies to provide policy-makers

with pragmatic, action-oriented recommendations" (p. 448). In conducting the analysis, numeric

values were assigned to variables in the policies. These values were then used to help define the

scope of the educational problem, formulate the research question, and develop policy

alternatives and recommendations. Through this research and a comprehensive literature review,









elements of a model Student Code of Conduct were developed that incorporated the mandates of

the Gun-Free School Act of 1994 and recommendations for school districts to reduce expulsions

with the intent of keeping more students in an educational setting. In using public documents like

Student Codes of Conduct, a focused synthesis of current zero tolerance policies was developed.

With this goal as the obj ective, this study was intended to "enlighten decision makers about

issues, problem definitions, or new ideas for alternative actions" (McMillian & Schumacher, p.

450).

Neuendorf (2002) suggested that a quantitative policy analysis must rely on the process of

producing "counts of key categories, and measurements of the amounts of other variables" (p.

14). Counts are words or phrases that are then transformed into numbers for coding purposes.

When the counts were coded in this study, comparisons between the large school districts and

small school districts were made using the modes, means, and medians of the coded words

Overview of Policy Analysis

Analyzing current policy, whether in the field of education or in the social sciences,

requires a clear understanding of how the policy was derived, its original intentions, and its

perceived outcomes. If those outcomes are not met, then the policy should be revisited and

possibly revised. Much has been written about the process by which policies are analyzed. One

of the field experts in methods for policy research, Ann Maj chrzak (1984), viewed policy

analysis as one method of discovering how policies have been adopted by members in the

community. In this analysis, it is important to choose "variables that can be changed to improve

the social problem" (p. 50). For example, a district cannot choose which types of children enter

through its doors each day, but a district can choose how it treats those children. Policies should

focus on these variables "since the obj ective of policy research is to provide policymakers [in









this case, district school board officials and members] with useful recommendations"

(Majchrzak, p. 50).

One purpose of researching and writing a dissertation is to eventually have it used in a

field of study (McMillan & Schumacher, 2006). Policy analysis that "uses diverse criteria for

worth and contains more comprehensive information, such as program context and

implementation," is seen as more influential than a policy analysis incorporating only one

variable (p. 450). This study incorporated six different research variables, each with its own

significance as zero tolerance policies in Florida are compared. Through the analysis of these

variables, similarities and differences emerged as to how Florida school districts implemented

the mandates outlined by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

Theoretical Framework of the Study

The epistemology, or philosophical theory of knowledge (Webster' s Dictionary, Inc.,

2006), relied on a framework of obj ectivism supported by a theory of positivism. Relating

obj ectivism to a study on zero tolerance policies implies that objective truths exists apart from

imposing personal meaning to events or occurrences. Through the literature review, it was

demonstrated that elements of a model Student Code of Conduct could be developed that would

incorporate the Gun-Free School Act of 1994 mandates and options to remediate student

behavior in an educational setting. The theory of positivism supports the idea that factual and

actual experience, not opinions or hypothetical situations, were used to develop the model

elements for the school districts to implement in their Student Codes of Conduct.

The policy analysis was designed to answer the following questions:

*Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of Florida' s small and large districts
that include a definition of what the term zero tolerance means and how it relates to
discipline?










* Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
guns in their zero tolerance policies?

* Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
knives in their zero tolerance policies?

* Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
drugs in their zero tolerance policies?

* Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
bullying or harassment in their zero tolerance policies?

* Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of small and large districts that include
provisions allowing for students to attend alternative educational settings if they violate a
zero tolerance policy?

Data Sources

The State of Florida is relatively unique in that it is comprised of 67 counties with each

county having a single school district and school board that represents the people of that county.

The largest district has a student population of over 250,000, while the smallest district has

approximately 1,300 students. Florida's smallest district, however, is comparable to many

medium-sized districts in other states (Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Michigan, etc.), where many of

their districts sometimes have as few as 200 students.

The Florida legislature does not grant the right to a free public education to anyone in

Florida; it offers the opportunity to its residents, an opportunity that can be denied if the residents

are determined to be a threat to others. Florida school districts have a diverse student body

demographic, with six urban districts and over 30% of the students of ethnic background other

than that of Caucasian descent (Florida Department of Education, 2006). Combining both rural

and urban cultures with those of ethnically diverse cultures, in school districts that span the entire

width of the counties, creates school districts in Florida that are generally unique by nature.

Florida follows the federal mandate of zero tolerance school discipline policies. The

Advancement Proj ect (2006), in cooperation with the NAACP, selected Florida as the one state









to highlight when addressing the injustices that children face as a result of strict zero tolerance

policies. The Advancement Proj ect study highlighted the "rise of overly broad zero tolerance

school discipline policies at both the state and local level" (p. 7) as well as the increasing costs

that Florida taxpayers incur because school districts are paying sheriff deputies to ensure safety

in their schools instead of relying on trained, educational leaders and professionals who already

work in the schools. Even though the Advancement Proj ect thoroughly examined Florida' s six

largest school districts and their handling of discipline procedures, there has yet to be a

comprehensive study comparing all 67 Florida school districts and how they implement zero

tolerance policies. This study is the first of its kind to utilize the information from all 67 Student

Codes of Conduct from Florida' s public county school districts.

Procedures

The procedures utilized in this research were adapted from Neuendorf (2002) as they

applied to this particular policy analysis. Her guide in analyzing the content of policies included

the following steps and will be defined as they apply to the analysis of Student Codes of

Conduct: (a) theory and rationale, (b) conceptualizations, (c) operationalizations, (d) coding

schemes, (e) sampling, (f) coding, and (g) tabulation and reporting (Neuendorf, 2002, p. 51).

Theory and Rationale

Defining what is going to be examined in the analysis and why it was chosen is necessary

when explaining the theory and rationale behind a policy analysis (Neuendorf, 2002).

Traditionally the discipline policies of school districts are defined in booklets or handbooks that

are distributed to the students at the beginning of every school year. These booklets have various

names, such as "Student Conduct and Discipline Code," "Student Code of Conduct," and "Code

of Student Conduct." For the purpose of this policy analysis, all of these policies will be referred

to as "Student Codes of Conduct." The Student Codes of Conduct from all 67 public school









districts in the State of Florida were chosen because Florida has some of the most stringent zero

tolerance policies in the nation (Advancement Proj ect, 2006). These codes outlined the

procedures that principals and educational leaders must follow when deciding how to discipline

students.

The theory and rationale behind dividing the 67 school districts in Florida into two groups

based on student population was to discover if any similarities and differences existed between

the types of zero tolerance policies a district has and the number of students that attend the

schools in that district. Studies and surveys published by the National Center for Educational

Statistics (NCES) have concluded that larger school districts report a higher percentage of

violent crimes committed in schools than smaller districts. No similar studies have reported

similarities and differences between the types of discipline policies a school district has in

relation to the number of students in that district (U. S. Department of Education, 2006). The

Crime and Safety Surveys, a National Center for Educational Statistics study, provides data that

indicate students are more likely to be victims of violent crimes as the number of students in the

school district increases (U. S. Department of Education, 2000). In the present study, similarities

and differences were made to compare the variables included in the Student Codes of Conduct in

Florida's large and small school districts. Similarities and differences between the two groups

were also compared to see if there were any trends found within and between the two categories.

The Crime and Safety Surveys database is one of many databases maintained by the

National Center for Education Statistics. This annual survey collects information and publishes

reports in the areas of school crime, violence, safety, and discipline (U.S. Department of

Education, 2006). Additional data to support the similarities and differences between higher

violent crime percentages and larger school districts is provided by the Bureau of Justice









Statistics, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Bureau of Justice

Statistics' annual report titled Indicators of School Crime and Safety collects "data on crime and

safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general

population" as well as data on crime "occurring on the way to and from school" (U.S.

Department of Justice, 2005, TI 2). As in other reports, the data in this report reinforce the idea

that violence in schools increases as the district's student body size increases.

Conceptualizations

The prevailing concept in this research was to analyze the manner by which the school

districts in the State of Florida chose to implement the zero tolerance mandates required by the

Gun- Free Schools Act of 1994. The variables studied emerged from the literature review and

were based on the fact that the zero tolerance school discipline policies vary from district to

district. Florida school districts are required by Florida State law to only include guns in their

zero tolerance policies. Choosing to include knives, drugs, and bullying in a zero tolerance

policy is solely the decision of the school district, as is the decision to pay for alternative

educational settings where children who are expelled or suspended over 10 days may attend

(Florida Department of Education, 2006).

Conceptually, the decision to distinguish between Florida's large and small school districts

in this policy analysis derives from the national research on urban school districts. Research

indicates that districts with larger student populations have a larger percentage of zero tolerance

violations than districts with smaller populations. Approximately 77% of the schools located in

large districts report incidences that violate zero tolerance policies versus 70% of schools located

in small districts (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). This study examines the ways in which

districts chose to implement zero tolerance policies with the size of the student population of the

school districts as the dividing factor between the two groups being compared.









Operationalizations

The unit of data collection, or measures, must match the conceptualization (Neuendorf,

2002).The units of study in this research derived from the review of literature and national data

sets, both of which highlighted the most frequently included aspects of zero tolerance policies

such as guns, knives, bullying, and drugs (Skiba, et al., 2006). In addition, because some districts

chose to fund alternative educational settings for their expelled students, such decisions to

operate an alternative educational setting became another unit of study by this researcher.

Coding Schemes

Once the variables for the policy analysis were determined, a codebook (Appendix A) was

developed to coincide with the codes used on the coding form (Appendix B). A coding scheme

was developed in order to record the specific information gathered and to place a corresponding

value next to each variable found in the district' s Student Code of Conduct. In addition, each

school district was assigned a number so that the district' s names could remain confidential, with

the names of the school districts recorded in a separate, private codebook.

Sampling

A non-random sampling process was utilized in this research. Processes for sampling the

data for this policy analysis included:

* The Florida Department of Education' s Safe and Healthy Schools Office was contacted in
an attempt to acquire copies of all 67 district Student Codes of Conduct. In speaking with
the director, it was discovered that she does not keep copies of discipline codes on file and
that, if needed, she could contact the school district if she had any questions regarding a
weapons policy.

* The Florida School Board Association was then contacted in an attempt to acquire copies
of all 67 district Student Codes of Conduct. In speaking with their representative, it was
discovered that she also does not keep copies of discipline codes on file and that, if needed,
she could contact the school district if she had any questions regarding any school board
policies.









* An Internet search of the Florida Department of Education' s website led to a page that
contained links to all 67 Florida school districts. In viewing the first 10 websites, it was
discovered that most school districts did not post Student Code of Conduct on the Internet.

* Permission was granted by the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB)
to contact the school districts and request use of public documents, in this case, access to
the Student Codes of Conduct (Appendix C).

* All of the districts, even those that had their Student Codes of Conduct available online,
were sent letters through U.S. Mail requesting assistance in this study by sending copies of
the Student Code of Conduct to the enclosed address (Appendix D).

* School districts that did not respond to the initial request after a four-week period were
sent a second request through U.S. Mail (Appendix E).

* Districts that still did not respond were contacted by telephone and email.

Coding

The process of obtaining the Student Codes of Conduct concluded once all 67 Student

Codes of Conduct were obtained by the researcher. At that point, the final data analysis occurred

and coding proceeded as outlined:

* Each district' s Student Code of Conduct was assigned a number that coincided with the
confidential number assigned to each of the 67 Florida school districts. Districts' Student
Codes of Conduct that were provided as PDF files or attachments were printed, bound, and
also labeled so that hardcopies were available on which the researcher could write notes
and highlight coded words.

* Each Student Code of Conduct was read by the researcher.

* Variables relating to the six research questions were coded onto the corresponding area on
the coding form.

The total number of variables required on the coding form was eight: (a) the school district' s

assigned number; (b) the district's student population; (c) whether the district' s Student Code of

Conduct included a definition of the term zero tolerance, whether the Student Code of Conduct

included zero tolerance policies against (d) guns, (e) knives, (f) drugs, (g) bullying, and

(h) whether the Student Code of Conduct indicated if the district had an alternative educational

setting for those students who have been suspended or expelled.










The coding process required the researcher to decide which words or statements were

appropriate and consistently recorded on the coding form. Even though the following issues were

resolved in the coding process, they still emerged through the research process:

* When Student Codes of Conduct included discipline policies for knives, bullying, or drugs
that did not result in a mandatory suspension or expulsion, those districts were not coded
as having zero tolerance for those offenses. In order for the policy to be considered a zero
tolerance policy, it must have defined the policy as one that had a mandatory or automatic
puni shment.

* A few Student Codes of Conduct did not use the actual term zero tolerance when referring
to mandatory punishments, yet it was clear the policies and punishments reflected the
essence of zero tolerance policies. In those cases where the term zero tolerance was not
actually used, they were counted as having zero tolerance policies if the Student Codes of
Conduct included mandatory punishments for guns, knives, drugs, or bullying. The
researcher believed the integrity of the study was not marginalized because those districts
were fulfilling, in their own vernacular, the zero tolerance requirements mandated by the
Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

* Discipline policies that were specifically written for students who are protected under the
law mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act were not included in the
coding process or on the coding form. Only those policies that referred to general or
regular education students were coded.

* Only those districts whose alternative educational settings were designed for students who
were suspended or expelled from their regular educational settings were included in the
coding form. Publicly funded magnet or charter schools, although sometimes used as an
option for students who are suspended or expelled from their regular educational settings,
were not counted as alternative educational settings because they also enroll students that
did not violate zero tolerance policies.

* Although most districts had a single Student Code of Conduct for grades K-12, some
districts had separate Student Codes of Conduct for grades K-5 grade, 6-8 grades, and
7-12 grades. If a district had more than one Student Code of Conduct, the researcher used
only the Student Codes of Conduct that applied to the secondary schools in the district.
This decision enabled the researcher to be consistent throughout the coding process. It also
prevented some districts from having their elementary Student Code of Conduct coded
while having other districts 9-12 grade Student Code of Conduct coded on another form.

* Some districts provided quite detailed and lengthy Student Codes of Conduct (up to 68
pages), providing a vast amount of information regarding how discipline policies related to
specific offenses, while others were short and concise (as few as 6 pages). In the Student
Codes of Conduct that were excessively long, only the chapters that outlined discipline
were thoroughly evaluated.









All of the coding issues were addressed in a consistent manner so that they did not corrupt the

final data analysis.

Tabulation and Reporting

The tabulation and reporting of results involved counting the variables that were present in

each district' s Student Code of Conduct. The decision to tabulate was based on whether the

variable appeared in relation to a zero tolerance discipline policy. For example, if there was a

drug policy outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, but it did not result in the automatic

suspension or expulsion of the student involved, it was not counted as a variable in this study.

In addition, if an alternative education setting was available to suspended or expelled

students in the district, even if it was attached to or part of a juvenile detention center, it was

counted as a variable as long as non-disciplined students were not attending the facility. The

alternative education setting was not counted if it was a regularly zoned school, such as a trade,

tech, or special magnet school. Once the codings were completed, the data were entered into a

Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet and analyzed.

Summary

This chapter provided an overview of the method used in this study as well as an overview

of the study itself and the theory, rationale, and purposes of policy analysis as they contribute to

society and lawmakers. The theoretical framework of the study was provided and a description

of the procedures, data sources, and coding process. In addition, the tabulation and reporting

process was described in detail as a preface to the reporting of data in Chapter 4.









CHAPTER 4
RESEARCH FINDINGS

The purpose of the study was to determine differences in the Student Codes of Conduct

developed by Florida' s public school districts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the

implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. The 67 public school districts in Florida

were categorized into two groups according to the mathematical divide of their student

populations: (a) 33 districts with a student body population of 15,000 or more were placed in the

first group, defined as large school districts, (b) 34 districts with a student body population under

15,000 students were placed in the second group, defined as small districts.

Six indicators were used to determine these policy differences: (a) whether the Student

Codes of Conduct included a definition of the term zero tolerance, (b) whether the Student

Codes of Conduct included a zero tolerance policy against guns, (c) against knives,

(d) against drugs, (e) against bullying, and (f) if there was an option of attending an alternative

education setting for students who violated a zero tolerance policy. The data collected were

compared through the use of the two categories, with the totals and percentages of the large

districts compared to the totals and percentages of the small districts on all six indicators.

This chapter provides a profie of the individual data sources used in this study, including

the method and rates of retrieval, as well as the results of the policy analysis. Details of the

complete profie of Florida school districts are provided, followed by a description of the coding

process used to gather information on each of the categories as they related to the corresponding

indicator. This chapter also includes a summary of the patterns that were evident in the data

processing, and concludes with a brief summary of the data collected.









Profile of Data Sources

The data for this study was provided by the 67 public school districts in Florida. Florida

was chosen as the state of interest because of the national publicity and criticism it has received

regarding the ways its districts have chosen to implement zero tolerance policies as mandated by

the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. The information was gathered using each district's Student

Code of Conduct, a document that is published each year by the individual districts and is

accessible to the public upon request. The process of requesting the Student Codes of Conduct

from various public entities as well as each district was outlined in Chapter 3.

Method and Rates of Retrieval

The researcher sought to obtain the actual booklet or hardcopy of each district' s Student

Code of Conduct from the district' s Office of Student Services, rather than simply reading the

document online, for two specific reasons. First, the researcher discovered that the integrity of

the document was sometimes compromised by the district, inadvertently or purposefully, when

the Student Code of Conduct was web-based because the web-based document did not always

include the same amount of information found in the hardcopy that the district sent home with

each student at the beginning of the year. For example, some Student Codes of Conduct

contained letters from the superintendents that highlighted new changes to the Student Codes of

Conduct, letters that were not available for the general public to view online. In addition, having

a web-based Student Code of Conduct allowed the district office the ability to change or

manipulate the document anytime throughout the course of the school year, whereas having the

actual booklet that was sent home with the students at the beginning of the year provided the

researcher with the same policies that were enacted since the previous fall semester.

The second reason the researcher sought to obtain the actual booklets that contained the

Student Codes of Conduct was so that the researcher could physically code the pertinent data of









interest while reading them. This also allowed the researcher the ability to handle the documents

in the same manner that the students and parents of the districts would handle the documents.

This became a factor when the researcher was considering what a model policy should physically

resemble, especially when several districts published their documents in fonts so small or with

ink so faint that the researcher had difficultly reading them (Table 4-1).

Of the 67 school districts in Florida, 36 responded to the first request for a copy of the

districts' Student Code of Conduct. This request was sent by U. S. Mail. Of the 3 1 that did not

respond, 18 responded to the second request for a copy of the Student Code of Conduct, again

sent by U.S. Mail. For the 13 districts that had still not responded, the researcher contacted each

district by telephone, asking to speak to the Director of Student Services or the Assistant

Superintendent. Of those contacted by telephone, 11 fulfilled the researcher' s request. A fourth

request was made with the two districts that had not yet provided the Student Codes of Conduct.

The request included both emails to the districts' superintendents as well as phone calls to high

school principals in the districts requesting someone fulfill the researcher's request for public

documents. Eventually both districts fulfilled the request, completing the collection of data for

all 67 of Florida's school districts (Table 4-2).

Description of Categories by School District Size

The Florida Department of Education website indicated that there were 2,572,963 students

attending public schools in Florida's 67 county school districts in 2006 (Florida Department of

Education, 2006). These 67 school districts were divided into two categories with the mean

number of students being 15,000. The first category had 33 school districts each containing

15,000 students or more; the second category had 34 districts each containing fewer than 15,000

students.









The first category had a total student population of 2,402,430, which accounted for 93.37%

of Florida' s public school population. The second category had a total student population of

170,533, which accounted for the remaining 6.63% of students in Florida' s public schools. Of

the 33 large districts, seven had a student population of over 100,000, with the largest district in

Florida reporting a student population of 3 59,420 in 2006. Of the 34 small districts, Hyve districts

had student populations of less than 1,500, with the smallest district in Florida reporting a

student population of 1,056 students in 2006 (Table 4-3).

District Size and Inclusion of a Zero Tolerance Definition

A definition of the term zero tolerance was found in the Student Codes of Conduct in 29

(43.28%) of the 67 school districts in Florida. The remaining 3 8 (56.72%) either did not mention

the term zero tolerance in the Student Codes of Conduct or did not define the term if it was

included. Of the 29 school districts that included a definition of the term zero tolerance in the

Student Codes of Conduct, 18 (54.54%) were categorized as large districts and 11 (32.35%) were

categorized as small districts. Of Florida' s 33 large districts, 15 (45.46%) either did not include

the term zero tolerance or did not define the term if it was included. Of Florida' s 34 small

districts, 23 (32.35%) either did not include the term zero tolerance or did not define the term if

it was included (Table 4-4).

District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Guns

Sixty-two (62) of the 67 school districts in Florida included a zero tolerance policy against

guns in their Student Codes of Conduct. This equates to 92.53% of all school districts in Florida

having a mandatory suspension or expulsion for students who bring a gun to school or to a

school function. The remaining 7.46% either did not have a specific policy against the possession

of guns or did not define the policy as one that has a mandatory punishment (Table 4-5).









Of the 62 school districts that included a zero tolerance policy against guns in their Student

Codes of Conduct, 33 were large districts and 29 were small districts. All 33 of the large districts

had a specific zero tolerance policy against the possession of guns in school or at a school

function. Of Florida' s 34 small districts, 29 (85.29%) had a zero tolerance against guns policy in

their Student Codes of Conduct while Hyve (14.71%) either did not include a zero tolerance

against guns policy or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bringing a gun

to school or to a school function.

District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Knives

Forty-Hyve (45) of the 67 school districts in Florida included a zero tolerance policy against

knives in their Student Codes of Conduct. Thus, 67. 16% of all school districts in Florida have a

mandatory suspension or expulsion for students who bring a knife to school or to a school

function. The remaining 32.84% either did not have a specific policy in their Student Codes of

Conduct against the possession of knives in school or did not define the policy as one that has a

mandatory punishment.

Of the 45 school districts that included a zero tolerance policy against knives, 29 were

large districts and 16 were small districts. Within Florida' s 33 large districts, 29 (87.87%)

included a zero tolerance against knives policy while four (12.13%) did not include a zero

tolerance against knives policy in their Student Codes of Conduct or did not specify that there

was a mandatory punishment for bringing a knife to school or to a school function. Of Florida' s

34 total small districts, 16 (47.06%) included a zero tolerance for knives policy in their Student

Codes of Conduct. The other 18 (52.94%) either did not include a zero tolerance against knives

policy or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bringing a knife to school or

to a school function (Table 4-6).









District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance for Drugs

Fifty-four (54) of the 67 school districts in Florida (80.59%) included a zero tolerance

policy against drugs in their Student Codes of Conduct that results in a mandatory suspension or

expulsion. The remaining 19.41% of districts either did not have a specific policy in their

Student Codes of Conduct against the possession of drugs in school or did not define the policy

as one that has a mandatory punishment. Of the 54 school districts that included a zero tolerance

policy against drugs, 29 were large and 25 were small. Of Florida' s 33 large districts, 29

included a zero tolerance against drugs policy (87.87%). The four other large districts (12.13%)

either did not include a zero tolerance against drugs policy in their Student Codes of Conduct or

did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bringing drugs to school or to a school

function. Of Florida' s 34 total small districts, 25 included a zero tolerance against drugs policy in

their Student Codes of Conduct (73.52%). The four other small districts (26.47%) either did not

include a zero tolerance for drugs policy or did not specify that there was a mandatory

punishment for bringing drugs to school or to a school function (Table 4-7).

District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Bullying and Harassment

Fourteen (14) of the 67 school districts in Florida (20.89%) included a zero tolerance

policy against bullying or harassing other students in school or at a school function in their

Student Codes of Conduct. The remaining 53 (79. 11%) either did not have a specific policy in

their Student Codes of Conduct against bullying or did not define the policy as one that has a

mandatory punishment. Of the 14 school districts that included a zero tolerance policy against

bullying, nine were large districts and Hyve were small districts. Of Florida's 33 large districts,

nine districts (27.27%) included a zero tolerance against bullying policy while the other 24

(72.73%) either did not include a zero tolerance policy against bullying in their Student Codes of

Conduct or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment against bullying in school or









at a school function. Of Florida' s 34 small districts, five (14.7%) included a zero tolerance policy

against bullying in their Student Codes of Conduct. The other 29 small districts (85.3%) either

did not include a zero tolerance policy against bullying or did not specify that there was a

mandatory punishment for bullying in school or at a school function (Table 4-8).

District Size and Options for an Alternative Education Setting

Forty-eight (48) of the 67 school districts in Florida (71.64%) included in their Student

Codes of Conduct an option for an alternative education setting for students who were suspended

or expelled as a result of violating a zero tolerance policy while in school or at a school function.

Of these 48 school districts, 32 were large districts and 16 were small districts. Thirty-two (32)

of the total 33 large districts (96.96%) included in their Student Codes of Conduct an option that

students attend an alternative education setting if they violate a zero tolerance policy while in

school or at a school function. Sixteen (16) of the 34 total small districts (47.05%) included an

option for students to attend an alternative education setting. More than half of the small districts

(52.95%) did not include an option for students to attend an alternative education setting if they

violated a zero tolerance policy while in school or at a school function. Of the 67 school districts

in Florida, 19 school districts (20.89%) did not indicate in their Student Codes of Conduct that

there was an option for students to attend an alternative education setting if they violated a zero

tolerance policy (Table 4-9)

Results of Coding by Categories

Categories of district size were devised dividing the total student populations of the 67

Florida public school districts by two. This resulted in one group representing 33 districts with

student body populations of 15,000 or more, and a second group of 34 districts representing

student body populations under 15,000 students. Using these two sized categories, school district

Student Codes of Conduct were collected and analyzed using six indicators. Indicators are coded









words or phrases that the researcher sought while analyzing the similarities and differences

among the 67 school districts. These six indicators were: (a) zero tolerance is defined and the

Student Codes of Conduct includes (b) a zero tolerance policy against guns, (c) a zero tolerance

policy against knives, (d) a zero tolerance policy against drugs, (e) a zero tolerance policy

against bullying, and whether students who violated a zero tolerance policy are provide an (f)

option of attending an alternative education setting. The data analysis is reported by district size,

frequency, and percentages of schools reporting each of the six indicators (Table 4-10).

Large Florida districts were found to have more indicators present than did the 34 small

districts. The most obvious difference between large and small districts was the number of large

districts that offered an option for an alternative education setting for students who were

suspended or expelled for violating a zero tolerance policy listed in their districts Student Code

of Conduct. Of the 33 large districts, 96% (32) had provisions for an alternative education setting

versus 47% (16) of the small districts.

The indicator that represented the greatest similarity between large districts and small

districts dealt with inclusion of a zero tolerance against guns policy in their Student Codes of

Conduct. All 33 of the large districts (100%) indicated that they had policies mandating a

suspension or expulsion for students who brought a gun to school. Of the 34 small districts, 85%

(29) indicated they had such a policy.

Results of Coding by Indicators

Once the two district size categories were established, analysis of the Student Codes of

Conduct using the six coded indicators was conducted. Of the 67 Florida school districts, six

districts (8.95%) were found to have two Student Codes of Conduct, one for elementary schools

and a second one for junior high, middle, and high schools. One additional district (1.49%) had

three separate Student Codes of Conduct, one for K-5th grades, a second one for 6th-8th grades,









and a third one for 9th-12th grades. In cases where there was more than one Student Code of

Conduct in a district, the researcher used only the one that applied to the secondary school

setting. This decision allowed for consistency in defining the following indicators.

Inclusion of a Definition for the Term Zero Tolerance

The first indicator in this policy analysis entailed the researcher coding words or phrases

that represented a definition of zero tolerance. The Student Codes of Conduct presented the

researcher with a variety of ways to ascertain that the district enforced policies that had

mandatory punishments. Some districts (43.28%) specifically used the term zero tolerance in

defining that certain infractions of the Student Code of Conduct would result in suspension or

expulsion (Table 4-10). Other districts (49.25%) never used the term zero tolerance, but through

an analysis of the Student Codes of Conduct, the researcher discovered that the districts fulfilled

the mandate by the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 by requiring mandatory punishments for

certain offenses. In both cases, the districts were coded as having defined the term zero

tolerance .

In the Student Codes of Conduct that used the term zero tolerance but never defined for

the researcher that the policy associated with the infraction included a mandatory suspension or

expulsion, the district was coded as not having defined the term. In establishing this standard, the

researcher excluded some districts that, for example, had the term Zero Tolerance Policies in

their table of contents, yet when the researcher investigated the policy, discovered that the

consequence for violating the Student Code of Conduct did not require a suspension or

expulsion. In those cases, the infraction usually involved a continuum of consequences, two of

which may have been suspension or recommendation for expulsion, but if the Student Codes of

Conduct did not specifically define the zero tolerance policy as having a mandatory punishment,

then it was not counted for this study.









Guns


The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 mandated that each school district receiving public

funds for education have a policy included in their Student Code of Conduct requiring the

expulsion of students who bring weapons to school or to a school function. According to the

federal law, the word weapon "includes guns, bombs, grenades, rockets, and missiles (Pipho,

1998, p. 725). Each Student Code of Conduct that included the word weapon also included the

word gun in its description of what constitutes a zero tolerance offense. The word firearm was

also used in place of weapon when describing banned obj ects from schools.

Districts that specifically stated there was a zero tolerance policy for guns in their Student

Codes of Conduct, but did not mandate a suspension or expulsion for bringing them onto

campus, were listed as not having a zero tolerance policy for guns. All 67 districts in Florida

included a policy on guns, but five districts, all of which were small, included the possession of a

gun as an offense that may result in suspension or expulsion. The fact that those five districts did

not list the possession of guns as an offense that includes a mandatory suspension or expulsion

resulted in those districts not being coded by the researcher as having a zero tolerance policy

against guns.

Knives

The word knife is not mentioned in the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, but the Act does

allow states and individual school districts to expand their use of zero tolerance policies so that

their Student Codes of Conduct may include them among a list of weapons that are subj ect to

mandatory punishments. The researcher coded districts as having zero tolerance policies against

knives if the districts listed the possession of a knife as an offense that resulted in a suspension or

expulsion, regardless of the fact that some districts had minimum requirements for the length of

the knives in order for them to qualify for the mandated punishment. This decision by the









researcher was made to provide consistency in studying the indicator of knives and the question

as to whether there were differences in large districts and small districts as to their decision to

include knives as a weapon that results in a mandatory punishment. The researcher decided that,

if the districts' Student Code of Conduct included a mandatory punishment for any sized knife

(whether it was under 3 inches or not), then the district did, in fact, have a zero tolerance policy

against knives. The district was coded to reflect the policy on zero tolerance against knives.

Drugs

Coding whether districts included drugs in the Student Codes of Conduct did not entail the

researcher establishing specific criteria to account for factors such as quantities of drugs or types

of drugs because districts simply used the all-encompassing term drugs to include any drug of

any quantity. The researcher did, however, make a distinction between policies regarding drugs

and those regarding alcohol. Some districts specifically listed alcohol as a drug in the zero

tolerance against drugs policies, while others listed alcohol under a separate policy. Districts that

listed alcohol as a separate drug, with separate consequences, were still coded as having a zero

tolerance policy against drugs if the Student Codes of Conduct mandated a suspension or

expulsion for the possession of drugs (even if the possession of alcohol did not mandate such

punishments). Therefore, there was no distinction made in the coding process for those districts

that had zero tolerance against drugs, but not alcohol, as compared to those districts that had zero

tolerance policies for drugs that included alcohol.

Bullying

The word harassment and the term bullying were used interchangeably by most school

districts in their Student Codes of Conduct. Both words were coded in this study as a form of

intimidation of one person by another person, as long as the word harassment did not refer to

sexual harassment policies. Sexual harassment policies were not specifically coded for this study.









The researcher did observe, though, that districts sometimes included sexual harassment policies

in their Student Codes of Conduct even if they did not include bullying policies. It was also

noted that districts often relied on consequences such as a conference with the guidance

counselor or a conference with the students and parents of all those involved in the bullying

incident instead of mandatory punishments such as suspensions or expulsions.

Options for an Alternative Educational Setting

The process of coding whether districts included an option for an alternative educational

setting for students who violated zero tolerance policies as outlined in their districts' Student

Codes of Conduct was a difficult task due to the differences in describing and listing the

alternative settings. Some districts had specific sections in the Student Codes of Conduct that

outlined the process and qualifications for enrollment into the alternative education settings,

describing the programs offered at the alternative education settings and its location. Other

districts never provided a description of the alternative education settings, but listed an

alternative education setting as an option for students who violated the zero tolerance policies.

The option for students to choose an alternative education setting was commonly described

as an option in lieu of expulsion. Most Student Codes of Conduct, in those districts that included

this as an option, would list the consequence of violating the zero tolerance policy as suspension

or expulsion. Attending the alternative education setting was never a punishment in of itself for

any district in Florida, but application to an alternative education setting often accompanied an

expulsion hearing.

Summary of Patterns

Six patterns emerged from the data gathering and coding process when determining if there

were differences in the Student Codes of Conduct developed by large and small school districts









in response to zero tolerance policies related to the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act

of 1994:

1. The student body populations of the districts signified that the overwhelming maj ority of
students in Florida (95%) attended schools in districts larger than 15,000 students in
2006.

2. The Student Codes of Conduct from larger districts included a larger percentage of
indicators than those of smaller districts.

3. Specifically, including a definition of the term zero tolerance was more common in larger
districts' Student Codes of Conduct (55%) than it was in smaller districts' Student Codes
of Conduct (32%).

4. Not every Student Code of Conduct had a policy mandating expulsion for guns, even
though the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 mandated having this policy contingent on
receiving federal funds. Each of the 33 large districts mandated suspension or expulsion
for the possession of a gun, but only 29 of the 34 small districts mandated it. Smaller
districts were more inclined to include suspension and expulsion on a continuum of
possible disciplinary measures. The five districts that did not mandate it allowed for
lesser punishments to be administered.

5. In this study, harassment and bullying were the least coded indicators of zero tolerance
policies in Florida school districts.

6. All but 1 of the 33 large districts provided an option of an alternative education setting,
while only 16 of the 34 small districts offered an option of an alternative education
setting.









Table 4-1. Results by method for Florida school districts
Method of Retrieval N=(67) %

Retrieved via the internet 24 36.11%

Retrieved by hardcopy or booklet 43 63.89%


Total number of Student Codes of Conduct received 67 100.00%









Table 4-2. Results by rate of retrieval for Florida school districts
Rate of Retrieval N=(67) %

Retrieved upon the first request (researcher used U.S. Mail) 36 53.73%

Retrieved upon the second request (researcher used U.S. Mail) 18 26.86%

Retrieved upon the third request (researcher used the telephone) 11 16.41%

Retrieved upon the fourth request (researcher used the telephone
and sent emails) 2 3.00%


Total number of Student Codes of Conduct received 67 100.00%









Table 4-3. Division of districts into categories by student body population
Category Numb er of Di stri cts Total Student Population and %

First (Large Districts) 33 2,402,430 (93.37%)
15,000 students and over

Second (Small Districts) 34 170,533 (6.63%)
Under 15,000 students


Total Number:


2,572,963 (100.00%)










Table 4-4. Results by district size and inclusion of a zero tolerance definition
Category Number of Districts That Included % of Districts That Included
a Zero Tolerance Definition a Zero Tolerance Definition

Public School Districts 29 43.28%
In Florida (N=67)


Large Districts with Enrollments of 18 54.54%
15,000 or more students (n=33)

Small Districts with Enrollments of 11 32.35%
Under 15,000 students (n=34)









Table 4-5. Results by district size and zero tolerance for guns
Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a
Zero Tolerance for Guns Policy Zero Tolerance for Guns

Public School Districts 62 92.53%
In Florida (N=67)


Large Districts with Enrollments of 33 100.00%
15,000 or more students (n=33)

Small Districts with Enrollments of 29 85.29%
Under 15,000 students (n=34)









Table 4-6. Results by district size and zero tolerance for knives
Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a
Zero Tolerance for Knives Zero Tolerance for Knives

Public School Districts 45 67.16%
In Florida (N=67)


Large Districts with Enrollments of 29 87.87%
15,000 or more students (n=33)

Small Districts with Enrollments of 16 47.06%
Under 15,000 students (n=34)









Table 4-7. Results by district size and zero tolerance for drugs
Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a
Zero Tolerance for Drugs Zero Tolerance for Drugs

Public School Districts 54 80.59%
In Florida (N=67)


Large Districts with Enrollments of 29 87.87%
15,000 or more students (n=33)

Small Districts with Enrollments of 25 73.52%
Under 15,000 students (n=34)










Table 4-8. Results by district size and zero tolerance for bullying
Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a
Zero Tolerance for Bullying Zero Tolerance for Bullying

Public School Districts 14 20.89%
In Florida (N=67)


Large Districts with Enrollments of 9 27.27%
15,000 or more students (n=33)

Small Districts with Enrollments of 5 14.70%
Under 15,000 students (n=34)









Table 4-9. Results by district size and an alternative education setting
Category Number of Districts with an % of Districts with an
Alternative Education Setting Alternative Education Setting

Public School Districts 48 71.64%
In Florida (N=67)


Large Districts with Enrollments of 32 96.96%
15,000 or more students (n=33)

Small Districts with Enrollments of 16 47.05%
Under 15,000 students (n=34)









Table 4-10. Comparison of categories to indicators
Indicators Florida Large Small Florida Large Small
Total Total Total % % %

Definition of Zero Tolerance 29 18 11 43.28 54.55 32.35
Zero Tolerance against Guns 62 33 29 92.54 100.00 85.29
Zero Tolerance against Knives 45 29 16 67.16 87.88 47.06
Zero Tolerance against Drugs 54 29 25 80.60 87.88 73.53
Zero Tolerance against Bullying 14 9 5 20.90 27.27 14.71
Option for an Alternative Setting 48 32 16 71.64 96.97 47.06

District Student Population 2,572,963 2,402,430 170,533 100.00 93.37 6.63

Total # of Districts: 33 34 33 34









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

The purpose of the study was to determine the differences in the Student Codes of Conduct

developed by Florida' s large and small school districts in response to zero tolerance policies

related to the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. The Gun-Free Schools Act

of 1994 provided districts with the opportunity to expand the usage of mandatory punishments

for virtually any misbehavior districts deemed unwanted. This policy analysis demonstrated that

giving districts the ability to expand the usage of zero tolerance policies has resulted in the

preponderance of districts including infractions that do not relate to the original intent of the

Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. This proved true more often in Florida' s larger districts, those

with over 15,000 students, than it did with Florida' s smaller districts.

The findings reported in this chapter can be used for future study on the inclusion and

implementation of zero tolerance policies in public school districts. Elements for a model

Student Code of Conduct, based on the literature review provided in Chapter 2 and the data

gathered and reported in Chapter 4, were developed to provide school districts in Florida with

ways in which they can continue to operate within the parameters of the Gun-Free Schools Act

of 1994 but also implement safeguards so that non-violent children are not suspended or

expelled as a result of over-zealous or all-encompassing zero tolerance policies. In addition, the

findings of this policy analysis contribute to the knowledge base of zero tolerance research,

providing a foundation and platform for future researchers to question the practices of school

districts and their decisions to include or exclude certain elements in their Student Codes of

Conduct.









Discussion of the Findings

The Eindings of this study were based on an analysis of policies found in Florida' s public

school district Student Codes of Conduct. Utilizing Florida' s entire collection of 2005-2006

Student Codes of Conduct allowed the researcher to establish a foundation on which Eindings

could be reported as complete and current. The literature review and theoretical framework

outlined in Chapter 2 provided the foundation for this policy analysis. Using the data gathered by

this research as a basis for discussion, four maj or Eindings were summarized and analyzed within

the parameters of this study: (a) Student Codes of Conduct from large school districts in Florida

are more vigilant at defining the term zero tolerance than those found in small districts,

(b) Florida' s large school districts' Student Codes of Conduct are more often in compliance with

the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 than small school districts, (c) small school districts in

Florida are less likely than large districts to expand the use of zero tolerance policies in their

Student Codes of Conduct, (d) large school districts in Florida are more likely to provide an

option in their Student Codes of Conduct that allows for students to attend an alternative

education setting.

Defining Zero Tolerance

The literature review in Chapter 2 outlined the importance of providing definitions of

words so that the "consumers," or readers, understand the "overall constructs" that support the

usage of the words (Friedgan, 2003, TI 12). Without understanding the constructs, words and

phrases have little or no meaning, resulting in confusion among the readers. The researcher

sought to answer whether there was a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of Florida' s

small and large public school districts that include a definition of what the term zero tolerance

means as it relates to discipline. When analyzed, the data collected in this study indicate









differences between Florida' s large and small districts: more than half (55%) of the large districts

included such a definition; only one-third (32%) of the small districts included a definition.

Applying the philosophy that appropriate definitions to words and phrases help eliminate

confusion in the meaning of the policy by consumers, districts that fail to define the term zero

tolerance in the Student Codes of Conduct essentially fail to create the deterrence factor that

these policies are supposed to instill in students. If the mandatory punishments associated with

zero tolerance policies are intended to scare students into not disobeying the Student Codes of

Conduct, then they need to know exactly what breaking a zero tolerance policy means for them.

This education occurs by providing appropriate definitions in districts' Student Codes of

Conduct so that the codes can be used as an educational tool by the teachers, parents, and

educational leaders that work with students.

The lack of a definition of the term zero tolerance in Student Codes of Conduct is not

cause for an increase in students' misbehavior. However, a common understanding for the term

zero tolerance should be clearly defined by each district so that parents and students understand

the consequences of their actions. In addition, only 1 of 3 students attending school in small

districts in Florida has a Student Code of Conduct that includes definitions of the school's zero

tolerance policies. This is compared to 1 of every 2 students in Florida's large districts.

Considering that the consequences of violating a zero tolerance policy results in either

suspension or expulsion, neither ratio is very impressive. The findings suggest that Florida' s

school districts, both large and small, inadequately define zero tolerance.

Compliance with the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994

The federal Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 mandated that students who brought guns to

school or to a school function be expelled for no less than 356 days. The second research

question sought to answer whether there was a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of









Florida' s small and large districts that include guns in their zero tolerance policies. It was

anticipated that all 67 schools in Florida, at the risk of losing federal funds for non-compliance,

would include policies in the Student Codes of Conduct that articulated this mandate. Instead it

was discovered through this study that, while 100% of large districts complied with the law, only

85% of small districts in Florida were in compliance.

There are multiple ways to interpret the findings from the second research question. The

first would be to assume that Florida' s large school districts are better at defining the

consequences of bringing a gun to school because the Student Codes of Conduct outline

mandatory punishments. This would place officials in large districts in the position to claim that

they are more serious about school safety than officials in small districts because their policies

outline that no guns will be tolerated, reinforcing the tough-on-crime mentality that was one of

the underlying deterrent philosophies of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

A second possible way to interpret the findings associated with the six research questions

would be to consider that larger districts have more funds available to hire outside consultants to

assist in the development of their Student Codes of Conducts than smaller districts. Large

districts sometimes utilize the services of consulting firms that examine settled lawsuits and

pending litigation, finding ways to shield districts from expensive lawsuits. The result is that

many large districts find it economically sensible to include more indicators in their Student

Codes of Conduct, and especially in their Zero Tolerance policies, which results in longer, more

inclusive Student Codes of Conduct.

A third possible way to interpret the findings associated with the second research question

(as well as those of the third, fourth, and fifth research questions that addressed the inclusion of

knives, drugs, and bullying in zero tolerance policies) would be to assume that small districts









have reserved for themselves the option of looking at the intent of the violation, the

circumstances surrounding the violation, and have a continuum of consequences other than

expulsion. The fact that 5 of 67 school districts in Florida (7.47%) failed to mandate expulsion

should not be interpreted as failure to implement policies that are consistent with having a safe

school environment. What this research demonstrated was that the five small districts that did not

mandate expulsion still had the option for expulsion, allowing educational administrators to

make appropriate decisions on whether the offense deemed an expulsion. These districts may

have wanted to steer away from the mentality that zero tolerance equals zero options, thus

providing their building administrators with more options when addressing guns, knives, drugs,

and bullying. Although the researcher cannot confirm such intent, these findings suggest that

these five small districts in Florida have more opportunity to offer alternatives to expulsion than

do the other 62 districts, regardless of size.

Expanding Zero Tolerance Policies

Just as the percentage of students attending schools in Florida' s large districts (95%) is

considerably more than small districts (5%), so are the percentages of what large districts chose

to include as zero tolerance policies in their Student Codes of Conduct. This research study

found that large school districts in Florida have overly-broad definitions of zero tolerance

policies compared to small school districts, including many more things in their policies than just

guns (i.e., knives, drugs, and bullying). The inclusion of guns in zero tolerance policies by both

large and small school districts is understandable because federal tax dollars are attached to such

policies; the reasons for a higher rate of including weapons other than guns in Student Codes of

Conduct of large districts is less clear.

The literature review in Chapter 2 outlined the problems that knives, drugs, and bullying

pose on schools and their safety, but the current research and literature does not provide










significant evidence as to why Florida's large districts would want to mandate suspensions or

expulsions of their students at a greater rate than small districts. One reason may be that larger

school districts are commonly associated with larger cities and higher crime rates (U. S.

Department of Education, 2006). Measuring the tolerance level of educational leaders for

violence and drugs in schools located in large school districts is difficult to quantify, but given

the increased awareness of violence and drug-related crimes in large cities, it may be that the

higher percentage of what is included in zero tolerance policies is a reflection of the

communities' lower tolerance for deviant behaviors in students. Although such a conclusion

cannot be verified by this study, the data collected in this study verifies that the preponderance of

large districts included several infractions (i.e., knives, drugs, and bullying) in the Student Codes

of Conduct that did not relate to the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

Providing the Option of an Alternative Education Setting

The literature review and research presented in Chapter 2 (National Guard Camps, etc.)

provide evidence that students who are expelled from their regular education setting can still find

academic success if they are given the opportunity to attend an alternative education setting.

Although a wide variety of alternative education programs are currently available across the

country, students who attend schools in one of Florida' s small districts have less than a 50%

likelihood of attending such an alternative school because their districts do not offer it as an

option. Conversely, 97% of Florida' s large school district Student Codes of Conduct currently

provide students who are suspended or expelled for violating a zero tolerance policy the option

of attending an alternative education setting

Conclusions

The purpose of this study was to determine differences in the Student Codes of Conduct

developed by Florida' s large and small school districts in response to zero tolerance policies










related to the implementation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. Through the literature

review, data collection, and findings reported in this policy analysis, the researcher developed

four conclusions.

Conclusion 1: Student Codes of Conduct Should Include a Definition of the Term Zero
Tolerance

The Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 requires that every school district receiving federal

education funds include a mandatory punishment, or zero tolerance policy, for students who

bring a gun to school or a school function. Agreement or disagreement with the law should not

be the deciding factor whether the district includes a definition of the term zero tolerance. A

comprehensive definition of the term zero tolerance should be included in a district' s Student

Code of Conduct in order to provide the members of their communities with the appropriate

information to make educated decisions.

Even though providing a definition does not ensure that everyone will read the Student

Codes of Conduct and fully comprehend the ramifications of violating zero tolerance policies, it

does create a framework by which educational leaders in each district can inform their students,

parents, and community that some student behaviors will result in mandatory punishments. A

definition for zero tolerance also allows the educational leaders and community to engage in

discussion about the application of that definition. Without a definition, this discussion could not

occur.

Conclusion 2: Limit What Constitutes a Zero Tolerance Offense

Parents must feel confident that their children are in a safe environment when they send

them to school each day. This belief sometimes leads parents to conclude that all children who

perform deviant behaviors must be removed from school in order to ensure the safety of the other

students and improve the climate of the school. There is little data to support the belief that









removing deviant children actually improves the climate of the school or that school becomes

safer after deviant children are removed. Children are sent to school to learn. Sometimes the

lessons learned come from classroom experiences; other times the lessons learned come from the

mistakes they make and the compassionate educators that guide them into making better choices.

If zero tolerance policies are allowed to further proliferate into every element of the Student

Codes of Conduct, it is likely that the number of students who violate zero tolerance policies

sometime throughout the course of their K-12 education will increase, forcing more students out

of their regular educational settings.

Few people question the philosophy that truly violent students must be separated from the

rest of the student body in order to protect the well-being and safety of the entire student

population. This same mentality (i.e., separating violent individuals from the rest of society) is

the impetus of the adult prison system. Even though some citizens would like to see more zero

tolerance policies for crimes committed by adults, the justice system realizes that not every

broken law justifies a mandatory prison sentence. Just as the adult prison system has limits and

parameters on what crimes constitute a prison sentence, so too should school districts

demonstrate restraint as to which violations of their Student Codes of Conduct should result in a

mandatory punishment. Zero tolerance policies should balance modifying unwanted student

behavior and separating students that pose a real threat to school safety from their regular

education setting. Increasing the number of zero tolerance violations in Student Codes of

Conduct decreases the ability of school administrators to use good judgment when deciding if the

infraction was malicious, intentional, and a danger to school safety.

Conclusion 3: Districts Should Fund Alternative Education Settings

Disagreements arise among educational leaders, policy makers, and youth advocates when

trying to decide what to do with children who have demonstrated truly violent tendencies.










Suspension and expulsion are two common practices, but when the students are suspended for

long periods of time, or expelled from school, then the question surfaces of who should be

responsible for them. The struggle involves deciding whether children, some as young as 6-

years-old, should to be treated like prisoners and taken by youth resource officers to detention

centers to be punished, or whether educational leaders and professional teachers should attempt

to reform school-age children so that they might lead productive and fulfilling lives. If the

decision is to rely on educators, the question becomes where this can best be accomplished: in

the regular education setting or in an alternative education setting.

Every public school district in Florida should provide students with the option of attending

an alternative educational setting within or outside the district. Such provision would eliminate

the current disparity of less than 50% of students who are expelled from small school districts in

Florida having an opportunity to attend an alternative education setting compared to nearly 100%

of students in large districts having this opportunity. The manner by which districts structure

alternative education settings does not have to be identical, but they should at least provide

adequate academic instruction combined with behavior modification components that teach

students how to learn from their mistakes. The alternative education settings should be viewed in

lieu of expulsion, providing students the education they need while also removing them from

their regular educational setting until they have demonstrated they are no longer a threat to the

safety of other students.

Implications for Policy and Practice

Revisit Current Student Codes of Conduct

Educational leaders in Florida should revisit and re-evaluate the zero tolerance policies

currently defined in their districts' Student Codes of Conduct. Do the infractions currently

included as Zero Tolerance Offenses truly represent a serious breach of student conduct that









threatens the safety of other individuals in the school? Prior to revisiting their Student Codes of

Conduct, it is recommended that educational leaders convene committees in their communities

that can assist in defining the purpose and function of their Student Code of Conduct.

The purpose of Student Codes of Conduct should not be to make it is easier to push

students out of their regular education setting. Rather, the purpose should reflect an emphasis on

educating as many students as possible in their regularly zoned public school while

simultaneously maintaining high standards of safety and healthy learning environments.

Educational leaders are encouraged to work with community members to create a Student Code

of Conduct that reflects community values and work to create policies that are fair, yet sensible.

Adopt a Model Student Code of Conduct

By encouraging educational leaders to work with community members to create a Student

Code of Conduct that reflects their values but still retains fairness and sensibility, seven model

elements are offered that every district should incorporate in their Student Codes of Conduct.

The model elements are based on a review of research literature, the data from the 67 Student

Codes of Conduct found in Florida' s public school districts, and insights the researcher gained

during analysis of Student Codes of Conduct from both small and large districts (Figure 5-1).

The first element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a clear and concise

definition of the term zero tolerance. The definition should reflect the philosophy that a zero

tolerance offense is one where the student is guilty of a very serious breach of conduct, an act

that is evident that the student' s intent was to threaten the safety of those at school. Such a

breach shall result in the removal of the student from his or her current education setting to an

alternative education setting. Notice that the term removed is used instead of expelled.

The second element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a system of

safeguards that provide, prior to administering any consequence, individual consideration for all









students by considering their maturity level, past infractions and an examination of the intent of

their actions. The safeguard is modeled after the manifestation hearings that students with

disabilities are entitled to if they are accused of violating a zero tolerance policy. This assures

that due process is followed in every occasion.

The third element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a matrix of all

possible discipline infractions (possession of guns, knives, or drugs, as well as bullying, stealing,

fighting, sexual harassment, etc). The matrix should reflect Florida State Law that says "no

student shall be suspended for unexcused tardiness, lateness, absences, or truancy" as well as

stating that "written notification, with 24 hours by U.S. Mail, must be provided to parents

explaining why their student was suspended" (Florida State Legislature, 2005, 1006.09(1)(b)).

The matrix should identify the zero tolerance offenses determined by the educational leaders and

community representatives, accompanied by written explanations and consequences.

Supporting the notion that zero tolerance policies should be reserved for those offenses that

pose a very serious breach of conduct with the intent of threatening the safety of those at school,

the fourth element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a clear statement that

possession of weapons in school or at a school function is the only zero tolerance offense. Even

with the possession of a gun, knife, or other sharp obj ect, the educational leadership of the

district must assure the implementation of safeguards so that due process hearings are guaranteed

to every individual student.

The fifth element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is an explanation that

the alternative schools are an option for any student who violates the Student Code of Conduct.

Those reading the policy should be made aware that the alternative education settings are not just

for students who have brought knives to schools or who have already sold drugs, but also for the










chronically disruptive and at-risk students that have not found success in abiding by their regular

school's Student Code of Conduct.

The sixth element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is an Amnesty

Clause. This is a clause that specifically states that, should a student discover he or she has

unknowingly brought a weapon on campus or a school bus, and if they immediately and

personally notify school personnel upon such a discovery, that the zero tolerance punishment

will not apply. The Student Code of Conduct needs to include, however, that under Florida State

Law, both the local law enforcement and State Attorney's office must be notified that a weapon

was on campus.

The seventh element is that every Student Code of Conduct should be printed using an

easily readable format. This format should include a table of contents, page numbers, a font no

smaller than 12-point, and printed using ink that is neither faint nor one that smudges. This

element may seem trite, but much difficulty was experienced in gathering the data for this policy

analysis as a result of the absence of one or all of the above basics when publishing their Student

Codes of Conduct. Along with an easily readable format, the Student Code of Conduct should be

easily available, distributed to each student in hardcopy form as well as accessible online.

Create and Implement a Three CHANCE System of Educational Settings

The seven model elements proposed provide Florida' s public schools with a Student Code

of Conduct that upholds zero tolerance mandates as outlined in the Gun-Free Schools Act of

1994. It also supports the philosophical belief of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

(IDEA) that, in a democratic society, the notion of individual consideration must be awarded to

all students.

The short-term outcome of this dissertation was to provide Florida' s school districts with

the tools to construct well-written, concise, and fair Student Codes of Conduct. An additional,









long-term outcome was to address the "Schoolhouse-to-Jailhouse" trend in Florida by

eliminating expulsion from every Student Code of Conduct. Expulsions in Florida would instead

be replaced with safeguards and options that allow students to move within a Three-CHANCE

system of educational settings until they obtain their high school diploma (Figure 5-2).

CHANCE represents the acronym Changing Habits After New Character Education. The

First-CHANCE all students get is at their regularly zoned educational setting. This is the

presumptive placement for all students. If the students are being continually suspended because

they cannot successfully abide by the Student Codes of Conduct in the First-CHANCE schools,

students are then given a second opportunity to prove themselves at the Second-CHANCE

alternative school. Second-CHANCE schools could also be used for chronically disruptive

students, chronically truant students, and at-risk students.

Ideally each county would have their own Second-CHANCE school, but smaller counties

may combine their funds to create one shared facility. Second-CHANCE alternative schools

could be facilitated in one of two ways. One was would be to resemble the successful residential

alternative education settings for at-risk or chronically disruptive students currently facilitated

by the National Guard Youth Challenge Academies program discussed in Chapter 2. The second

way would be a day program that would closely resemble the First-CHANCE school with more

restrictions, less students, and less electives. The Second-CHANCE schools would also serve as

the setting for students who have violated zero tolerance policies (excluding those who were

convicted of felonies).

If students still cannot find success in their Second-CHANCE schools, or have been

convicted of a felony, then their final educational opportunity would be a Third-CHANCE

educational setting located at the residential juvenile correction facility. By providing three









levels of educational settings in Florida, all students in Florida would be required to attend

school in one of the three CHANCE schools, even if they had violated a zero tolerance policy in

their regular educational setting and were not allowed back for one calendar year. The CHANCE

program would essentially eliminate children from ever being expelled from public education;

instead, children would simply move between the three CHANCE schools until they have

completed the requirements for graduation or a high school equivalent certification program.

Recommendations for Future Research

It is the hope of all educational leaders that the number of students who commit violent

acts in schools will decrease in the future. Resorting to violence to remedy problems is nothing

new to schools, however, and the days of"taking it outside" and fighting with fists have been

replaced with more extreme acts of retaliation. Bringing guns or knives into schools and killing

students in their own cafeterias and libraries has become a method of revenge for many of

today's troubled students.

While some state and federal reports indicate that schools have less violence today

compared to when the Gun-Free Schools Act was originally implemented in 1994, others

contend that those reports are fundamentally flawed because they rely on self-reporting

mechanisms that are dependant on the respondent being honest when completing the survey.

School administrators are not inclined to present their schools as being unsafe because it might

reflect poorly on the administration' s capability to ensure the safety of their students. This

pressures many of today's administrators, aided by their districts, to conceal and purposefully

underreport as many violent acts as possible. The question still exists as to whether zero

tolerance policies are effective in either reducing acts of violence or creating a safer school

climate, resulting in seven recommendations as to how this question can be addressed:










1. Investigate the percentage of public school districts that implemented zero tolerance policies
against guns in their Student Codes of Conduct and whether having those zero tolerance
policies actually reduced violence in those districts.

2. Examine whether the inclusion of more than just guns in zero tolerance policies has reduced
the crime rates in schools.

3. Study the effectiveness of educating at-risk students in their regular education setting
compared to educating them at an alternative education setting.

4. Study the effectiveness of the programs offered at juvenile correction facilities, highlighting
what the best facilities are for educating at-risk students and possibly recommending ways in
which to increase the effectiveness of educating at-risk pupils prior to them committing more
serious offenses in their childhoods.

5. Examine the physical settings and institutions where chronically disruptive students attend
school once they are suspended or removed for violating a zero tolerance policy, relating the
physical setting to the developmental continuum of students found in elementary, middle,
and high school settings.

6. Examine the best pedagogy for working with chronically disruptive students in relation to
their grade level, searching for ways to best meet the needs of students who are placed in
alternative education settings. While Florida law stipulates that, if districts operate alternative
education settings, then the setting must meet the educational, emotional, and social needs of
the students, the Florida Department of Education offers no guidelines on how to monitor the
effectiveness of reaching these goals. Examining how to do this would be greatly beneficial.

7. Examine the social and financial ramifications that zero tolerance policies have on the
likelihood of success later as adults for children who lost their opportunity to an education as
a result of violating a zero tolerance policy. Include an examination of what eventually
happened to these children and what the costs have been to society in terms of financial
investments in constructing prisons, their actual incarceration rates, murder rates, and other
societal indicators that demonstrate a lack of success since childhood.

Summary

When analyzing the differences in the Student Codes of Conduct developed by large and

small school districts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the implementation of the

Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, the first research question examined differences according to

whether the districts included a definition of the term zero tolerance. Based on the data gathered

during this study, students in larger districts are more likely to attend schools where their Student









Codes of Conduct specifically define what a zero tolerance policy is and what it means to have a

mandatory punishment associated with violating one of those policies.

The second research question examined differences among Florida' s large and small

school districts according to whether the districts included a zero tolerance policy against guns.

All of the large districts (100%) had mandatory punishments for the possession of guns while

only 85% of Florida' s small districts mandated a suspension or expulsion. The results indicate

that students who live in small districts are less likely to attend schools that have mandatory

suspensions or expulsions for the possession of guns than students who live in large school

districts.

The third research question examined differences among Florida's large and small school

districts regarding whether the districts included a zero tolerance policy against knives. The data

revealed that 88% of the large districts had mandatory punishments for the possession of knives

while only 47% of Florida' s small districts mandated a suspension or expulsion. The results

indicate that students who live in small districts are less likely to attend schools that have

mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the possession of knives than students who live in large

school districts.

The fourth research question examined differences among Florida' s large and small school

districts according to whether the districts included a zero tolerance policy against drugs. The

data revealed that 88% of the large districts had mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the

possession of drugs while only 74% of Florida' s small districts mandated such punishments. The

results indicate that students who live in small districts are less likely to attend schools that have

mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the possession of drugs than students who live in large

school districts.









The fifth research question examined differences among Florida' s large and small school

districts according to whether the districts included a zero tolerance policy against bullying. The

data revealed that 27% of the large districts had mandatory punishments for those who bully

other students while only 15% of Florida' s small districts mandated a suspension or expulsion.

The results indicate that students who live in small districts are less likely to attend schools that

have mandatory suspensions or expulsions for bullying than students who live in large school

districts.

The sixth research question examined differences among Florida' s large and small school

districts regarding whether the districts included an option of an alternative education setting for

students who violated a zero tolerance policy. The data revealed that 97% of the large districts

had this option while only 47% of Florida' s small districts provided an option of an alternative

education setting. The results indicate that students who live in small districts are less likely to

have an option to attend an alternative education setting than students who live in large school

districts.

Student Codes of Conduct are "the heart of the legal approach to student discipline"

(Brown & Beckett, 2006, p. 241). Following the mandates of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994

and to create safe learning environments for their students, Florida' s 67 school districts have

each implemented their own versions of zero tolerance policies in their Student Codes of

Conduct. It is the responsibility of educational leaders and community members to evaluate

whether their district' s Student Code of Conduct is designed with the intention of maintaining

safe schools or if they are focused on pushing students out of their regular educational setting.

This study analyzed these Codes of Conduct in Florida and, as a result of that analysis and a









review of current literature, provided recommended guidelines for a model Student Code of

Conduct and a three CHANCE alternative to expulsion from school.










Table 5-1. Seven elements to include in a model student code of conduct


Element 1:




Element 2:



Element 3:


Element 4:



Element 5:


Element 6:




Element 7:


A definition of the term zero tolerance that reflects the philosophy that a zero
tolerance offense is one where a student is guilty of a very serious breach of
conduct, a breach where it is clear that the student had the intent of threatening
the safety of others at school.

A system of safeguards that provides, prior to administering any
consequences, individual consideration for all students by considering their
maturity level, past infractions and examining the intent of their actions.

A matrix of all possible discipline infractions (possession of guns, knives, or
drugs, as well as bullying, stealing, fighting, sexual harassment, etc).

A restriction that includes the possession of weapons (both guns and knives)
as the only zero tolerance offenses since they could threaten the safety of
those at school.

An explanation that the alternative schools are a part of the district schools
and are an option for any student who violates the Student Code of Conduct.

An Amnesty Clause that specifically states that should a student discover he or
she has unknowingly brought a weapon on campus or a school bus, and if they
immediately and personally notify school personnel upon such a discovery,
that the zero tolerance punishment will not apply.

The Student Code of Conduct should use an easily readable format that
includes a table of contents, page numbers, a font no smaller than 12-point,
and the use of ink that is neither faint nor one that smudges. It should be
distributed to each student in hardcopy form as well as accessible online.









Table 5-2. Changing habits after new character education (CHANCE) schools


First-CHANCE:




Second-CHANCE:





Third-CHANCE :


All students get a chance to attend their regularly zoned educational setting.
If they find they cannot successfully abide by the Student Codes of Conduct
in their First-CHANCE schools, then the students are given a second
opportunity to prove themselves at the Second-CHANCE school.

Either a day school similar to the First-CHANCE school with less students
and less electives, or a residential alternative education setting for at-risk or
chronically disruptive students, as well as a school for students who have
violated zero tolerance policies (excluding those students who were
convicted of felonies).

If students still cannot Eind success in their Second-CHANCE school, or
have been convicted of a felony, their final educational opportunity would
be the Third-CHANCE educational setting located at a residential juvenile
correction facility.


Students would remain in one of the three CHANCE schools until they complete the
requirements for graduation or a high school equivalent certification program.









APPENDIX A
ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES INT FL SCHOOL DISTRICTS CODEBOOK

The school districts under consideration provided their Student Codes of Conduct to the
researcher. The researcher read the Student Codes of Conduct in order to categorize the
variables. All variables were marked onto the coding form by one coder, the researcher.

The total number of variables (V) recorded on the coding form were eight:

(Vl) The school district's assigned number.

(V2) The district's student population (0=Small, 1=Medium/Large).

(V3) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include a definition of the term zero
tolerance (0=No, 1= Yes)?

(V4) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include guns (0=No, 1= Yes)?

(V5) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include knives (0=No, 1= Yes)?

(V6) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include drugs (0=No, 1=Yes)?

(V7) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include bullying (0=No, 1=Yes)?

(V8) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include an alternative educational
setting for those students who have been suspended or expelled (0=No, 1= Yes)?









APPENDIX B
ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES INT FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS
CODING FORM

(Vl) The school district's assigned number:

(V2) The district' s student population (0=Small, 1=Medium/Large):

In reviewing the district' s Student Code of Conduct (SCC), the following variables were
categorized with a 1 if the SCC included the variable as related to zero tolerance policies and
with a 0 if the SCC did not include the variable as related to zero tolerance policies:

(V3) Does the district' s Student Code of Conduct include a definition
of the term zero tolerance:

(V4) Does the district's SCC include guns:

(V5) Does the district's SCC include knives:

(V6) Does the district's SCC include drugs:

(V7) Does the district's SCC include bullying:

(V8) Does the district's SCC include an alternative educational setting
for those students who have been suspended or expelled:

Comments :











APPENDIX C
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTER





UNIVERSITY OF

~FLORIDA


SUBJECT: UFIRB Protocol #2006-U-0594
Request for Public Documents (Student Codes of Conduct from all 67 Florida
Public School Districts)

FUNDING: None


Because this protocol does not involve the use of human participants in research, it is exempt
from further review by this Board in accordance with 45 CFR 46. Human participants are
defined by the Federal Regulations as living individuals) about whom an investigator
conducting research obtains (1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual; or
(2) identifiable private information.
Should the nature of your study change or you need to revise this protocol in any manner,
please contact this office before implementing the changes

IF/di


Institutional Review Board


98A Psychology Bldg.
PO Box 112250
Gainesville, FL 32611-2250
Phone: (3532) 392-0433
Fax: (35i2) 392-9234
E-mail: irb2@ufl.edu
http://irb.ufL~edu


June 23, 2006


TO:



FROM:


Brian Schoonover
6549 Madison Street
St. Augustine, FL 32080

Ira S. Fischler, PhD, Chair A
University of Florida Institutional Review Board 02


An Equal Opportualty lastiansio









APPENDIX D
INITIAL LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS


June 28, 2006

Brian J. Schoonover
6549 Madison Street
St. Augustine, FL 32080
904-461-3367
b ri an23 3 7@y ahoo. com

Dear Director of Student Services:

My name is Brian Schoonover and I am a doctoral student at the University of Florida. I am
gathering information for the purpose of conducting a policy analysis that compares the student
discipline policies and procedures from all 67 school districts in Florida. As a result of this
analysis, I hope to develop a model policy that might be helpful to school districts throughout
Florida.

To make my study as complete as possible, I would appreciate you sending me a copy of the
student code of conduct or similar student discipline guidelines or matrixes that are currently
enacted in your school district. I am not interested in collecting from you any data relating to
particular incidences nor in collecting information on specific infractions; I simply plan on
comparing the wording of all 67 district policies as they relate to school discipline. The name of
your district will remain confidential throughout my report.

Thank you for your cooperation. Should assistance in interpreting or clarifying any of your
district policies be necessary, please indicate your willingness to be contacted and interviewed by
telephone by signing and returning the enclosed card to me. According to the University of
Florida guidelines, I cannot offer you any monetary compensation for your assistance. I would,
however, like to provide you with an executive summary of my findings, including suggested
policy recommendations for behavior guidelines. If you have any questions regarding the
purpose of my research, please contact me at 904-461-3367. Please send all materials to 6549
Madison Street; St. Augustine, FL 32080.

Sincerely,

Brian Schoonover
University of Florida

CC: UF Institutional Review Board
Jim Doud, Dissertation Chairperson
Jean Crockett, Dissertation Committee Member
David Honeyman, Dissertation Committee Member
David Quinn, Dissertation Committee Member









APPENDIX E
SECOND LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS


July 28, 2006

Brian J. Schoonover
6549 Madison Street
St. Augustine, FL 32080
904-461-3367
b ri an23 3 7@y ahoo. com

Dear Director of Student Services:

My name is Brian Schoonover and I am a doctoral student at the University of Florida. Earlier
this month I sent your office a letter asking for your assistance on my doctoral research. I am
gathering information for the purpose of conducting a policy analysis that compares the student
discipline policies and procedures from all 67 school districts in Florida. As a result of this
analysis, I hope to develop a model policy that might be helpful to school districts throughout
Florida.

To make my study as complete as possible, I would appreciate you sending me a copy of the
student code of conduct or similar student discipline guidelines or matrixes that are currently
enacted in your school district. I am not interested in collecting from you any data relating to
particular incidences nor in collecting information on specific infractions; I simply plan on
comparing the wording of all 67 district policies as they relate to school discipline. The name of
your district will remain confidential throughout my report.

Should assistance in interpreting or clarifying any of your district policies be necessary, please
indicate your willingness to be contacted and interviewed by telephone by signing and returning
the enclosed card to me. According to the University of Florida guidelines, I cannot offer you
any monetary compensation for your assistance. I would, however, like to provide you with an
executive summary of my findings. If you have any questions regarding the purpose of my
research, please contact me at 904-461-3367. Please send all materials to 6549 Madison Street;
St. Augustine, FL 32080.

Sincerely,

Brian Schoonover

CC: UF Institutional Review Board
Jim Doud, Dissertation Chairperson
Jean Crockett, Dissertation Committee Member
David Honeyman, Dissertation Committee Member
David Quinn, Dissertation Committee Member










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Blumenson, E., & Nilsen, E. (2003). One strike and you're out? Constitutional constraints on
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Brown, L., & Beckett, K. (2006). The Role of the school district in student discipline:
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Chepesiuk, R. (2005). Resurgence of teen inhalant use. Environmental Health Perspectives, 113
(12), 808A.

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Christie, K. (2005). Chasing the bullies away. Phi Delta Kappa, 86, 725-6. Retrieved March 30,
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Consolidated High School District 230. Homepage. Retrieved Feb 9, 2006, from
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Crowley, M. (2007, May). No mercy, kid: in the name of "zero tolerance," our schools are
treating innocent children like criminals. Reader 's Digest, 3 5-3 9.

Dutton, J. (2003, Jan). When girls bully girls. Biography, 7, 56-59.

Education Publishing Company. (2006, July 28). Leave weapons seizures to the experts.
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Elias, M. (2006, Aug 10). At schools, less tolerance for 'zero tolerance.' USA Today, 6D.

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Florida State Legislature. (2005). Florida safe and healthy schools act, 1006. 13.

Freidgan, A. (2003). The importance of definitions. The Data Administration Newsletter.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Brian James Schoonover graduated from Notre Dame Catholic High School in

Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1993. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago with honors in

1997, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in political science and minors in English and secondary

education. After working for an educational non-profit in Washington, D.C. in 1997, he moved

to Tokyo, Japan and taught in the Tokyo Public Schools for eighteen months. Upon his return to

the United States in 1999, Brian worked for the Chicago Tribune newspaper as well as

InterChurch Refuge Ministries, where he taught English to newly arrived immigrants.

In the fall of 1999, Brian accepted a teaching and coaching position at Loyola Academy

College Preparatory School in Wilmette, Illinois, where he worked for three years while he

obtained his Master in Education degree from Loyola University Chicago. Brian accepted his

first administrative position as the Athletic Director for The Schools of St. Benedict in Chicago

in 2002. After his marriage to Heather Anne Green in 2003, they moved to Saint Augustine,

Florida and have lived there ever since. Brian is in his fourth year of employment with St. Johns

County School District and is currently the Assistant Principal at South Woods Elementary

School located in Elkton, Florida.

Brian is the second of three sons of Michael and Diane Schoonover of Chattanooga,

Tennessee. His older brother, Todd, resides in Memphis, Tennessee with his family and his

younger brother, Curtis, resides in Neenah, Wisconsin with his family. When he has a moment of

free time, Brian enj oys surfing, going to the beach with his wife, and playing with his dogs.





PAGE 1

ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS By BRIAN JAMES SCHOONOVER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2007

PAGE 2

2 2007 Brian James Schoonover

PAGE 3

3 To my wife, Heather, and to my parents, Mike and Diane

PAGE 4

4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to acknowledge and thank my beautiful wife Heat her for her love, patience, and support through this entire process. To put it simply, without her, life would not be worth living. I would also like to acknowledge my pare nts for instilling in me Christian values, a passion for education, and a desire for lifelong le arning. In addition, I would like to acknowledge all of the people that aided me as I pursued my goal of obtaining my Ph.D. First and foremost, I must thank Dr. Jim Doud and his lovely wife Ja net who, even before I was accepted as a student to the University of Florida, were connected to my family because Jim worked in the same Iowa school district thirty years ago as my motherinlaw Sue Green. Jims support of me, both professionally and personally, went overandbeyond what any st udent could expect from a university professor, especially one at a Tier institution like the University of Florida. For that support, I am eternally grateful. There is a long list of other UF faculty and staff that I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge for their support of my continue d education, including my committee members Drs. Crockett, Quinn, Honeyman, and my s ubstitute committee member Dr. Clark. Their guidance and dedication to the process of editing and conferring with me is truly appreciated. I would also like to acknowledge Drs. Campbell, Algina, Miller, and BeharHorenstein for their relentless support in my academic aspirations on cam pus and in my cohort classes, as well as Dr. Sandeen and his daughter, my former colleague, Sara, for their support throughout this process. In addition, I would like to ac knowledge Drs. Hagedorn and Gra tto, along with Angela Rowe, who all generously gave of their time to help me as I tried to meet all of my deadlines while living 1 hours away in St. Augustine. A special acknowledgment must be extended to Bob Allten, my former principal, who supported my pursuit from the beginning of my pr ogram up to when he traveled with Heather

PAGE 5

5 and me all the way to Gainesville to watch me accept my January 2006 Student of the Month award. Without his blessing and flexibility, my dream of having a doctoral degree would never have come true. He is an example of someone who truly values lifelong learning, and for that, I thank him. I also would like to acknowledge Brian McElhon e, my current principal. He not only has provided me with guidance as I balanced both wo rk and pursuing this degree, but he has given me nothing but absolute support in my new role as assistant principal. His friendship along the way has been an added perk to my job, a friendship that I anticipate will grow in the years to come. My last acknowledgement is extended to all of my fello w Jacksonville/St. Augustine cohort members. Words cannot describe what an im pact meeting all of th em has had on my life. We shared good experiences and bad, deaths and bi rths, and through it all, grew as educators and as human beings. God placed us all together fo r a reason, and I believe that reason is being fulfilled through this dissertation. The stories, me mories, and experiences we shared cannot be quantified, nor will they ever be forgotten. To each and every one of them, I acknowledge and bless them for everything they have given to me.

PAGE 6

6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........9 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ............10 CHAPTER 1 ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FLORIDA...................................................................11 Current School Policies........................................................................................................ ..12 Statement of the Problem....................................................................................................... .14 Framework of the Study.........................................................................................................15 Purpose of the Study and Research Questions.......................................................................16 Significance of the Study...................................................................................................... ..16 Limitations.................................................................................................................... ..........17 2 HISTORY OF ZERO TOLERANCE.....................................................................................19 The Formation of a Zero Tolerance Definition......................................................................19 Defining Zero Tolerance for Students with Disabilities..................................................21 Individuals with Disabilities E ducation Improvement Act of 2004................................21 The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001............................................................22 Origins of the Term Zero Tolerance .......................................................................................24 Current Zero Tolerance Policies.............................................................................................27 Enactment and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance Policies......................................................27 Expert Opinions on Zero Tolerance Policies...................................................................30 Effects of Zero Tolerance Po licies on Student Behavior................................................31 Rethinking Zero Tolerance Policies.......................................................................................34 Recent Changes in Zero Tolerance Policies...........................................................................37 Alternatives to Zero Tolerance Punishments in Florida.........................................................38 Student Codes of Conduct......................................................................................................44 Elements of Zero Tolera nce Discipline Policies....................................................................44 Defining the Term Zero Tolerance ..................................................................................46 Guns........................................................................................................................... ......48 Knives......................................................................................................................... .....49 Drugs.......................................................................................................................... .....50 Bullying and Harassment................................................................................................51 Options for an Alternative Educational Setting...............................................................54 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........55

PAGE 7

7 3 THE STUDY...................................................................................................................... ....57 Overview of the Method.........................................................................................................57 Overview of the Study.......................................................................................................... ..57 Overview of Policy Analysis..................................................................................................58 Theoretical Framework of the Study......................................................................................59 Data Sources................................................................................................................... ........60 Procedures..................................................................................................................... ..........61 Theory and Rationale......................................................................................................61 Conceptualizations..........................................................................................................63 Operationalizations..........................................................................................................64 Coding Schemes..............................................................................................................64 Sampling....................................................................................................................... ...64 Coding......................................................................................................................... ....65 Tabulation and Reporting................................................................................................67 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........67 4 RESEARCH FINDINGS........................................................................................................68 Profile of Data Sources........................................................................................................ ...69 Method and Rates of Retrieval........................................................................................69 Description of Categories by School District Size..........................................................70 District Size and Inclusion of a Zero Tolerance Definition............................................71 District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Guns...........................................71 District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Knives........................................72 District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance for Drugs................................................73 District Size and Inclusion of Zero To lerance against Bullying and Harassment...........73 District Size and Options for an Alternative Education Setting......................................74 Results of Coding by Categories............................................................................................74 Results of Coding by Indicators.............................................................................................75 Inclusion of a Definition for the Term Zero Tolerance...................................................76 Guns........................................................................................................................... ......77 Knives......................................................................................................................... .....77 Drugs.......................................................................................................................... .....78 Bullying....................................................................................................................... ....78 Options for an Alternative Educational Setting...............................................................79 Summary of Patterns............................................................................................................ ...79 5 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS.............................................................................91 Discussion of the Findings..................................................................................................... .92 Defining Zero Tolerance.................................................................................................92 Compliance with the GunFree Schools Act of 1994......................................................93 Expanding Zero Tolerance Policies.................................................................................95 Providing the Option of an Alternative Education Setting..............................................96 Conclusions.................................................................................................................... .........96

PAGE 8

8 Conclusion 1: Student Codes of Conduct Should Include a Definition of the Term Zero Tolerance.............................................................................................................97 Conclusion 2: Limit What Constitutes a Zero Tolerance Offense..................................97 Conclusion 3: Districts Should F und Alternative Education Settings.............................98 Implications for Policy and Practice.......................................................................................99 Revisit Current Student Codes of Conduct.....................................................................99 Adopt a Model Student Code of Conduct.....................................................................100 Create and Implement a Three CHANCE System of Educational Settings..................102 Recommendations for Future Research................................................................................104 Summary........................................................................................................................ .......105 APPENDIX A ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FL SCHOOL DISTRICTS CODEBOOK....................................................................................................................... .111 B ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICI ES IN FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRCTS CODING FORM..................................................................................................................112 C UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUT IONAL REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTER......................................................................................................................... ......113 D INITIAL LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS.....................................114 E SECOND LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS...................................115 REFERENCE LIST................................................................................................................. ....116 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................121

PAGE 9

9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 Results by method for Flor ida school districts..................................................................81 4 Results by rate of retrieval for Florida school districts......................................................82 4 Division of districts into categ ories by student body population.......................................83 4 Results by district size and inclusion of a zero tolerance definition..................................84 4 Results by district size and zero tolerance for guns...........................................................85 4 Results by district size and zero tolerance for knives........................................................86 4 Results by district size a nd zero tolerance for drugs..........................................................87 4 Results by district size and zero tolerance for bullying.....................................................88 4 Results by district size and an alternative education setting..............................................89 4 Comparison of categories to indicators..............................................................................90 5 Seven elements to include in a model student code of conduct.......................................109 5 Changing habits after new charact er education (CHANCE) schools..............................110

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10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRICTS By Brian James Schoonover August 2007 Chair: James Doud Major: Educational Leadership Mandatory punishments for disciplinary offenses have been included in school districts Student Codes of Conduct since the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 ma ndated that districts have zero tolerance policies in order to receive their federal education dol lars. Thirteen years later, the majority of the 67 school districts in Florida have expanded their use of ze ro tolerance policies to include infractions other than t hose that were include d to keep guns out of schools. This policy analysis, the first comprehensive study of its ki nd, evaluated the zero to lerance policies found in all 67 of Floridas Student Codes of Conduct wi th the intent of providing policymakers and educational leaders with practic al, actionoriented recommendati ons on ways they can improve how students are disciplined in Florida. This study examined the history of zero tole rance polices, including the practice of adding offenses other than the possession of guns to thes e policies. This policy analysis detailed the differences between large school districts in Fl orida, those over 15,000 students, with the small school districts in Florida and thei r decisions on what to include in their districts zero tolerance policies. This study concluded with recommenda tions on what should be in a model Student Code of Conduct as well as a recommendati on for starting a ThreeCHANCE (Changing Habits After New Character Education) sy stem of educational placements.

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11 CHAPTER 1 ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FLORIDA The fear of violence in schools has led Amer ican legislators and e ducational leaders to adopt discipline policies that are increasingl y punitive in nature (Noguera, 1995). One example of a punitive discipline policy is the GunFr ee Schools Act of 1994 (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). The GunFree Schools Act requir es each state receiving federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) money to have a policy that mandates students be expelled for at least 365 days fr om their regular educational sett ing if they bring a firearm onto school property or to a school even t. It continues to be enforced today since its r eauthorization in Section 4141 of the ESEA as amended by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drugfree Schools, 2006). Since the enactment of the federal GunsFr ee School Act of 1994, Florida has required its public school districts to create and enforce policies that offe r no leniency for students (Florida Safe and Healthy Schools Act, 1006.13, 2005). Thes e policies, commonly re ferred to as zero tolerance or One Strike and You re Out policies, are stated so that they are as broad, vague, and allencompassing as possible (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003). While the Florida statute complies with the federal law, many school distri cts across Florida have broadened the policy to include expulsion for knives, drugs, bu llying, and even disorderly conduct. To bring public attention to the different ways in which Florida implements zero tolerance policies, the Washington, DC nonprofit group Advancement Projec t in collaboration with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and the Florida Stat e Conference of the NAACP examined the zero tolerance practices of Fl oridas six largest scho ol districts in its 2006 report titled Arresting Development: Addressing the Sc hool Discipline Crisis in Florida. The report came as a reaction to the muchpublicized 2005 Associated Press article that highlighted

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12 the incident of a fiveyearold gi rl who was handcuffed and arrest ed by St. Petersburg, Florida police for having a temper tantrum in her cl assroom (Advancement Project, Florida State Conference of the NAACP, & the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc, 2006). Since then, the girls family has hired a lawyer and is suing both the Pinellas County School District as well as the St. Pe tersburg Police Department (Asso ciated Press & CBS News, 2005). In an interview with the Associated Pr ess, the lawyer for the family said, unfortunately, with our system of civil justi ce, the way that we handle these matters, is you have to sue someone in order to get reform to get the reform, you have to make them pay, because if you dont make them pay, theyre never going to reform themselves. If they dont have to pony up, there never will be any change. ( 13) Realizing that reform through the court system can be quite expensive fo r school districts, the Florida Association of District School Superi ntendents (FADSS) used the Advancement Project report as the impetus for discussion when they convened in the fall of 2006 to address the implementation of zero tolerance policies in Flor ida. They did not, however, publish any official statements regarding the proceedings of their meeting. Implementing a zero tolerance policy that is both consistent with the GunFree Schools Act yet also respectful to the particular ch aracteristics of the communities would eliminate inconsistent interpretations of the policy. There currently are no guidelines or model elements for Student Codes of Conduct that sc hool boards or district superinte ndents can refer to when trying to improve their policies (Florida Department of Education, 2006). Achieving these model elements served as the impetus for this research. Current School Policies There are some similarities as well as diffe rences in how discip line is handled across Floridas school districts. For ex ample, even though Florida State Law does not require knives to be included as one of the infractions included in zero tolerance policies, many school districts in

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13 Florida have a clause in their discipline c odes of conduct that manda tes expulsion from the regular education setting for the possession of a knife. In addition, of the 26,990 school related referrals to the Florida Department of Juve nile Justice (DJJ) duri ng the 2004 school year, over threequarters of schoolbased referrals (7 6%) were for misdemeanor offenses such as disorderly conduct, trespassing, or assault and/or battery, which is usually nothing more than a schoolyard fight (Advancement Project, 2006, p. 6). Children in Florida are increasingly being sent to judges and jails for offens es that traditionally were dealt with in the principals office and after school detentions (Kaczor, 2006). There are also cases of nonvi olent students who have been expelled under Floridas zero tolerance policies. In 1999, a Flor ida high school student was expelled for violating his districts zero tolerance policy against i nappropriate behavior (Huf fines, 2000). The student was disciplined for threaten ing to shoot up the school in a Columbinetype fashion. The student adamantly denied ever saying this. The principal could not find one credible adult or student witness to support the allegati on. The police were called to the school, but after a twoday investigation, they determined that there was not enough evidence to press any type of charge against the student. This, however, did not stop th e school board from expelling the student. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) eventua lly accepted the familys case in 2000, but at that point the boy had already been out of school for an entire y ear. Such incidents are numerous not only in Florida but acro ss the country (Skiba, Reynolds Graham, Sheras, Conoley, & GarciaVazquez, 2006). Few school district policies ut ilize internal discipline met hods that try to address the underlying causes of behavioral problems (Adva ncement Project, 2006, p. 6). Thirty years ago, it would have been an unusual sight to have a child handcuffed by a police officer in school. This

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14 is, however, becoming more common in todays p ublic institutions of education. The sight of children being criminalized, handcuffed, arre sted, booked, and sent to court for minor misconduct in school is a trend th at is commonly referred to as the schoolhousetojailhouse track or the schoolto prison pipeline (p. 6). Statement of the Problem Children are often suspended and expelled fr om their regular education settings for offenses that do not pose a threat to school safety and that are far beyond the scope and intentions of the 1994 GFSA (Advancement Project, 2006). In August 2006, the American Psychological Association (APA) convened a task force to study the psychological affects that zero tolerance policies have had on the development of adolescents and their ability to learn in an atmosphere that is governed by punitive policies (Skiba, et al., 2006). To highlight the urgency for zero tolerance reform, the APA pointed ou t how zero tolerance po licies punish innocent children: January, 2004, Bossier Parrish, Louisiana. A fi fteen year old girl found in possession of one Advil tablet was expelled for one year unde r a district policy of zero tolerance for any drug. Closer scrutiny of previous school discipli nary actions in the sc hool district revealed cases in which other students had received a lig hter punishment for exp licitly illegal drugs. (Skiba, et al., 2006, p. 31) According to the APA Zero Tolerance Taskfo rce, there are many school board members, educational leaders, and parents who believe that suspending or e xpelling students is an effective behavioral modification because it promotes a safer learning environment for the children who were not involved with the incident (Skiba, et al., 2006). The taskforce, however, reported data that contradicted this belief. APA data indicated that the behaviors that resulted in the suspension or expulsion were not modified, and that the removal of those students did not create a safer learning environment in those schools.

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15 Some educational leaders and legislators publ icly support the idea th at zero tolerance policies enacted over the past decad e have made their schools safer (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005). Their claims are supported by the U.S. Bu reau of Justice Stat istics annual report Indicators of School Crime and Safety that states violent victimization dropped from 48 incidents per 1,000 students in 1992 to 24 per 1, 000 in 2002, a decrease that mirrors a decrease in crime among the whole populatio n (Scarpa, 2005, p. 19). Yet there is evidence to suggest that even with zero tolerance po licies the federal report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety grossly underestimates the extent of school crime because it is ba sed upon limited research surveys, not actual reported crime incidents (p. 19). Ken Trump, president of the National School Safe ty and Security Servic e, calls the federal report misleading. He believes that most experi enced school safety professionals know that school crime is underreported to law enforcement and that ther e is no federal mandatory K crime reporting and tracking law on the books like there is for institutions of higher education (Scarpa, 2005, p. 19). By keeping the crime stat istics underreported, pr incipals can better portray to the general pu blic that their schools are safer than what is actually true. Trump also questions whether it is good practice to handc uff, suspend, or expel students for minor infractions if there is no reason to believe that this practice makes the educational environments any safer. Framework of the Study More than 2,500 students drop out of high school each day as a result of expulsion or other conditions (Kingsbury, 2006). In the United States close to 1 million students leave school without graduating each y ear, costing the nation more than $ 260 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over the students lifetimes ( p. 30). In addition, 4,400 ju veniles are arrested each day and % of the inmates in state prisons lack a high school diploma (p. 30). Despite

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16 these statistics, districts continue to remove students through the use of allencompassing zero tolerance policies. Purpose of the Study and Research Questions The purpose of the study was to determine di fferences in the Student Codes of Conduct developed by large and small school districts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the implementation of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. To determine such differences, the followi ng research questions were addressed: 1. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of Floridas small and large districts that include a definiti on of what the term zero tolerance means and how it relates to discipline? 2. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include guns in their zero tolerance policies? 3. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include knives in their zero tolerance policies? 4. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include drugs in their zero tolerance policies? 5. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include bullying or harassment in their zero tolerance policies? 6. Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include provisions allowing for students to attend altern ative educational settings if they violate a zero tolerance policy? Based on the results of these findings, elemen ts of a model Student Code of Conduct were developed that incorporated the mandates of the GunFree School Act of 1994 as well as recommendations for future studies addressing how school districts might reduce expulsions with the intent of keeping mo re students in an educational setting and out of jail. Significance of the Study In 1995, one year after the implementation of the GunFree Schools Act (GFSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 10% of students in grades 8

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17 carried a weapon to school on a daily basis (Malico, 1995). The intent of the GFSA was to reduce this type of statistic, yet in 2001 the Josephson Institu te on Ethics conducted a similar survey to the CDC survey and f ound that the percentage had risen to 14% (Erickson, Mattanini, & McGuire, 2004). Even after a full five years of implementation of zero tolerance policies and the GFSA, the percentage of students carrying we apons to school actually increased while the number of violent incidents appears to have decr eased. According to these statistics, it appeared that the GFSA was not a deterr ent to bringing weapons to sch ool and had not benefited school districts as intended. This research provides school di stricts and educationa l policymakers with a description of how the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 has been impl emented in Florida. In addition, elements of a model Student Code of Conduct were develo ped that incorporated the mandates of the Gun Free School Act of 1994 as well as recommendations for school dist ricts to reduce expulsions with the intent of keeping more students in an educational setting and out of jail. If Floridas school districts choose to adopt these elem ents, students will benefit by having more opportunities to learn from their mistakes as well as having fewer suspensi ons and expulsions. If these elements are adopted, parents and commun ity members would also benefit by having more youth in educational facilities and less in juvenile correc tional facilities. Limitations The results of the study are based on resear ch conducted by analyzing Student Codes of Conduct from Floridas 67 county p ublic school districts. There ar e limitations to this study, the first being that the resu lts of this study cannot be generalized to othe r states. Although other states may have similar structures that would support a comparison of their Student Codes of Conduct to Floridas Student Codes of Conduct, each state is unique in the laws and regulations that guide local school districts. For example, some states have a multit ude of school districts

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18 within a single county. Other states have laws that rest rict the usage of zero tolerance policies, making a comparison between those states and Florida difficult to validate. The second limitation is in the appropriate a pplication of this study to Floridas school districts. By eliminating the use of K and 6 Student Codes of Conduct, the researcher may have inadvertently inflated the findings of th e study. While the resear cher did not code the excluded Student Codes of Conduct, there is a po ssibility that the excluded Student Codes of Conduct did not contain as many zero tolerance policies as the included Student Codes of Conduct. This is based on the practice that dist ricts create separate St udent Codes of Conduct for younger children with the intent of having fewe r mandatory and less extreme parameters for offenses than those applied to th e secondary school environment. The fact that 100% of the requested Student Codes of Conduct were provided to the researcher greatly reduced the limitations placed upon the study. The researcher utilized the same coding form for all 67 of Floridas Student Code s of Conducts. This elim inated the risk of recorder error in the data analysis procedures. By incorporating all available Student Codes of Conduct in this study on Florida discipline policies, the policy analysis was strengthened by using descriptive statistics instead of inferential st atistics, eliminating the need to prove statistical significance at a .05 level for any of the data pr ovided. Each set of numbers and percentages were factual because the researcher had the tota lity of information that was available to the population.

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19 CHAPTER 2 HISTORY OF ZERO TOLERANCE The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between Floridas small and large school districts and the offe nses in the zero tolerance polic ies found in their Student Codes of Conduct. The purpose of this chapter was to pr esent a review of literature pertaining to zero tolerance policies, highli ght current data and research rega rding zero tolera nce policies, and present testimonies from experts in the field of school discipline as they relate to zero tolerance policies. This review provided the necessary f oundation to lay the theo retical and philosophical framework for the study. The Formation of a Zero Tolerance Definition In November 1998 Jordan Locke, a fiveyearo ld attending Curtisville Elementary School in Deer Lakes, Pennsylvania was suspended for wearing a 5inch plastic axe as part of his firefighters costume to a Halloween party in his classroom (Skiba, 2000). In their response to upset firefighters who criticized the suspension, school officials drafted an Open Letter to Firemen Across the Country stating that they ne ver intended to offend firefighters by referring to the axe as a weapon, but defe nded the zero tolerance policy ag ainst weapons as fair (p. 4). In May 1999 a sophomore in Pensacola, Florida lo aned her nail clippers with an attached nail file to a friend. When the teacher saw this, sh e confiscated the clippers. The girl, aspiring to be a doctor, was given a 10day su spension by the principal and th reatened with expulsion, with the principal adding, Life goes on. You lear n from your mistakes. We are recommending expulsion (Skiba, 2000, p. 4). There are other stories like these in Florid a and throughout the United States. Websites are dedicated to highlighting the injustices resul ting from zero tolerance policies and calling for an end to them (www.thisistrue.com, www.ztnight mares.com, www.texaszerotolerance.com). One

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20 example of a nonviolent youth whose life was foreve r changed as a result of a school district enforcing a zero tolerance policies mandated by the GFSA of 1994 is of the high school senior in Knoxville, Tennessee who was expelled in 1999 after a friend left a knife in his car (Potts, Njie, Detch, & Walton, 2003). Apparently despondent after being expelle d during his senior year in high school, the student committed suicide. The parents of the boy sued the Knox County School Board and eventually won their case when the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the expulsion was irrational and absent of any eviden ce that the student was aware of the knifes presence in his car. The judge however, did not challenge th e existence of zero tolerance policies. For some educational leaders, this hold ing reaffirmed their belief that there was nothing wrong with zero tolerance policie s. Other politicians and educa tional leaders in Tennessee, however, began to question the decadeold fe deral law (Potts, Njie, Detch, & Walton, 2003). Zero tolerance, as it relates to behavior and discipline, has been defined as the policy or practice of not tolerating undesira ble behavior, such as violence or illegal drug use, with the automatic imposition of severe penalties even fo r first offenses (Potts, Njie, Detch, & Walton, 2003, p. 16). This definition provides an opportunity for school boards and principals to expand the boundaries in which a behavior can be subject ed to a zero tolerance policy simply by their labeling the behavior undesirable. Having such an allencompassing definition for zero tolerance is the precise reason why so few lawyers will accept cases involving parents or students challenging zero tolerance policies. Zero tole rance policies and definitions can be so encompassing that judges often rule a ny behavior that school districts deem undesirable as punishable behaviors that are with in the legislative bounda ries of the law and therefore subject to severe penalties. In February 2001, the Americ an Bar Association adopted a resolution opposing

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21 all zero tolerance policies on the ground that the policies pay no r egard to the circumstances or nature of the offense or the students history (Potts, et al., 2003, p. 16). The U.S. Department of Education define s zero tolerance wea pons policies in two separate documents: Sec. 14601 of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA)Gun Free Requirements (otherwise known as the GFSA of 1994, a component of the Improving Americans Schools Act of 1994) and the No Ch ild Left Behind Act (NCLB) Sec. 4141 of 2001 (Potts, et al., 2003). The GFSA defines the following: each State receiving Federal funds under this Act shall have in effect a State law requiring local educational agencies to expel from sc hool for a period of not less than one year a student who is determined to have brought a weapon to a school unde r the jurisd iction of local educational agencies in that State, ex cept that such State law shall allow the chief administering officer of such local edu cational agency to modify such expulsion requirement for a student on a casebycase ba sis. (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and DrugFree Schools, 2006, 2) Defining Zero Tolerance for Students with Disabilities As outlined in the GunFree Schools Act of 1994, the U.S. Department of Educations definition of the term student does not include those youth protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA )s Individual Education Plans (IEP) as detailed in Special Rulepart c of Section 14601 where it states, School s that have students with IEPs that bring guns or knives to school are guara nteed due process procedures (U .S. Department of Education, 2004). These proceedings may result in a return of the students to thei r regular educational settings if the behavior was determined to be a manifestation of their disabilities as outlined in their IEPs. Individuals with Disabilities E ducation Improvement Act of 2004 Several changes were made to the Individuals with Disabili ties Education Act (IDEA) in 2004. One of the more significant changes was th e inclusion of the new section relating to students with disabilities who vi olate their districts Student Codes of Conducts. Prior to 2004,

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22 the term Student Code of Conduct was not even mentioned in the IDEA. The new IDEA has experienced a change in philosophy regarding how students with disabilitie s who inflict serious bodily injury upon another person can be discip lined, introducing more of a zero tolerance approach that is in direct conflict with the ment ality that individual consideration should be given to all students, the philosophy that the IDEA was founded upon. There may be incidences when children with disabilities who are pr otected under the IDEA threaten other children in the school with a weapon. In those cases, s chool authorities can unilaterally remove a child with a disability from the childs regul ar placement for up to 45 days at a time and may ask an impartial hearing offi cer to order subsequent extensions if school officials continue to believe that the child would be substantially likel y to injure self or others if returned to his or her regular placement (U .S. Department of Education, 2004, p. 4). Another change made by the Individuals with Disabiliti es Improvement Act of 2004 specifically states that, a child with a disability who is removed from his or her curre nt placement for disciplinary reasons, irrespective of whether the behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the childs disability, must be a llowed to participate in the general education curriculum, although in another setting, and to progress toward meeting hi s or her IEP goals. (Office of Special Education and Rehabi litative Services, Departme nt of Education, 2006, p. 17) It is important to note that stud ents with disabilities can still be expelled, and in some states, those expulsions make up a considerable percen tage of the students who are expelled each year (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educationa l Statistics, School Survey on Crime and Safety, 2000). The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 The 2001 NCLB Act clarifies that student s must be expelled for possessing a gun in school (such as in a backpack) but not necessarily just for bringing a gun to school (such as having it in the trunk of a car). NCLB still empowers local sc hool districts to place stricter policies on their

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23 students, an option that many districts are still in clined to accept as they appease parents and school employees who demand safer schools (Pot ts, et al., 2003). Exceptions are sometimes made when schoolsponsored gun clubs require student s to have a gun in order to participate, an exception allowed by the GFSA. Although the GunFree Schools Act did not become federal law until 1994, some states already had zero tolerance laws in place, expelling students for offenses ranging from the possession of weapons to disorderly conduct (Pipho, 1998). When the term zero tolerance first entered in the vernacular of federal legislators, it was understood that the goal of enacting a zero tolerance law was to produce gunfree schools (p. 725). Includi ng an actual definition of zero tolerance in the federal legislation may not have seemed necessary at the time because the legislators supported the same goal, but the f act that the GunFree Schools Act allowed for expansions to the law has greatly transformed not only what zero tolerance means from stateto state, but in most cases, what it means from dist ricttodistrict. As it is written in the GunFree Schools Act, the term weapon in the federal law does not includ e knives or common fireworks, though a state law implementing the federal act may us e a broader definition of weapon that does include knives. The federal definition of weapon does include guns, bombs, grenades, rockets, and missiles. (Pipho, 1998, p. 725) The result is that a zero tolera nce policy in one district often times is completely different than the zero tolerance policy in the neighboring district. The media have highlighted dist ricts that have overly broad policies, picking up on stories in which the penalty appeared more serious than the infraction (Pipho, 1998, p. 726). With differing definitions of zero tolerance from district to district and state to state, there sometimes is confusion from both students and parents as to what exactly it mean s for their district to have a zero tolerance policy (Pipho, 1998). Some di stricts explicitly define the term zero tolerance as

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24 well as the offenses that result in mandatory pun ishments, while other dist ricts simply include a statement that they have a zero tolerance policy, yet do not define what that policy includes. Origins of the Term Zero Tolerance Different sources credit the origins of the term zero tolerance in everyday American vocabulary. Although it may have been used prior to 1982, the first time the term zero tolerance was ever published in reference to a guarant eed punishment was in a 1982 Atlantic Monthly article by James Wilson and George Kelli ng entitled Broken Windows: Police and Neighborhood Safety (Potts, et al ., 2003). This article discussed a change in mentality of the Newark, New Jersey police department. The theory was, if a broken window in a building is not repaired, it sends the signal that no one cares about its maintenance and that soon all the windows in all the building will be broken ( p. 2). This article prompted other police departments to adopt zero tolerance policies even for mild displays of disorderly behavior because the belief was this behavior was a precursor to more serious crime (p. 2). Other sources indicate that it was not until 1983 that the term zero tolerance was actually used in an official government policy. The polic y was enacted by the U.S. Navy to combat drug usage by its sailors (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). In 1983 the Navy enforced its zero tolerance for drugs by reassigning over 40 sailors because of th eir suspected drug abuse. In 1986 it became the official name of a program enacted by U.S. Attorney Peter Nunez of San Diego, requiring the impoundment of any sea craft carrying or tran sporting any amount of drugs. The program was such a success that in 1988 U.S. Attorney Ge neral Edwin Meese promoted the program as a national model. He ordered all customs official s to seize the vehicles and property of anyone crossing the border into the Unite d States with even trace amo unts of drugs. Those individuals were charged with a federal crime (Skiba, 2000).

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25 The success of these programs encouraged educ ational leaders and le gislators to try the same types of policies in their increasingly da ngerous public schools (Ski ba, et al, 2006). There was, however, no research as to the effect su ch policies would have on adolescents, nor was there any consideration as to th e appropriateness in having ultimate consequences for first time offenders. While it can be argued th at rational adults would be dete rred from certain activities if they knew those activities held dire consequenc es, no studies were conducted as to whether children were capable of understanding the repercu ssions of zero tolerance policies (Skiba, et al, 2006). In fact, research publishe d in 2006 by the American Psyc hological Associations (APA) Taskforce on Zero Tolerance policies concluded that adolescents before the age of 15 were psychologically incapable of understanding the full sign ificance of their actions as they relate to a mandated punishment. The APA report referenced many studies that supported the idea th at zero tolerance policies were not appropriate fo r the mindset of adolescents: adolescents before the age of 15 display psycho social immaturity in at least four areas relevant to social contexts such as those found in schools: resistance to peer influence, attitudes toward and perception of risk, futu re orientation, and impulse controlThey tend to weigh anticipated gains more than losses when making decisions (e.g., Hooper, Luciana, Conklin, & Yarger, 2004). Young adolescents te nd to be much less futureoriented than older adolescents and adults. They tend to discount the future when making choices (Greene, 1986) and to focus more on short term rather than on the longterm risks and benefits of their decisions (Grisso, et al., 2003). Finally, deve lopmental studies on behavioral control indicate that younger adolescents are less ab le to evaluate situations before acting, which is in part due to greater difficulty they have in regulating their moods (Cauffman & Steinberg, 2000; Luna, Garve, Urban, Lazar, & Sweeney, 2004). (Skiba, et al., 2006, p. 67) A lack of research in early the 1990s and a l ack of understanding on the effects that zero tolerance policies would have on students did not deter school districts across the country from adopting them. School districts in California and Kentucky bega n implementing zero tolerance policies for gangs and weapons as early as 1989 (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). New York followed

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26 by implementing zero tolerance policies mandati ng expulsion for any students involved in fighting, drugs, or gangrelate d activity (violent or nonviolen t) (Skiba, 2000). Across the country school boards adopted ze ro tolerance policies that resulted in ex pelling students for activities ranging from smoking to school disrup tion. The Superintendent of Yonkers School System in the State of New York applied zero to lerance policies to any st udent who disrupted the learning process, giving schools th e freedom to expel any student for just about any disturbance (Verdugo, 2002). In 1994, President Clinton signed the GFSA (McAndrews, 2001). According to Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, when our childr en and their families are afraid to go to and from school and afraid to be in school, lear ning obviously suffers (Malico, 1995, 4). In a directive to Riley from Clint on, the President stressed the pa ramount importance that this nations schools be safe, disciplined, and conducive to learning, asking Rile y to work with local authorities to help ensure that zero tolerance pol icies are adopted ( 6). The federal government was going to get tough on violence in schools, pr ompted by the newly won Republic majority in the House of Representatives and supported by the Democratic pres ident (Malico, 1995). One of the most influential pieces of resear ch that was published s hortly after the adoption of the GFSA was a 1995 survey by the Centers for Disease Control a nd Prevention (CDC). These research findings quantif ied the seriousness that guns and violence were posing on communities. The survey results determined that, on a daily basis, more than one in 10 students in grades 8 carried some kind of weapon to school (Malico, 1995, 7). This corresponded to the 1993 survey already conducted by the Education Departments National Center for Education Statistics that found that onequarter of students in grad es 6 worried about becoming victims of crime or threats while at school and at least one in eight studen ts had been victimized

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27 while on school property ( 8). The same year that survey was conducted, a University of Michigan study revealed that only 5% of student s attended schools equipped with metal detector (StonePalmquist, 2004). School districts were not given additional f unding to implement zer o tolerance policies. Instead, they were offered guidance by the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, the same Congress that authorized the GFSA voted to cut $500 million in funding for the Safe and Drug Free Schools Program, resulting in a 60% decrease in federal funds to states for a program that was designed to make schools safer (Malico, 1995). The GFSA mandated that those states that di d not pass and enact le gislation consistent with the GFSA by October 20, 1995 would ris k losing funding for programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Ac t (Malico, 1995, 12). Again, as funding for programs that promoted safer schools decreased, st ates were expected to decrease violence in their public schools. The result of these legislative maneuvers was that states adopted new laws and policies that mandated the expulsion of st udents, policies that were inexpensive to implement. They were not, however, required to provide those stude nts with alternative educational settings. Florida law outlines that an alternative edu cation placement can be made for the expelled students if it is de termined that the alternative se tting can meet the educational, emotional, and social needs of the students (Florida State Legislator, 2005); as of yet, there is no system or procedure in Florida designed to dete rmine if those needs or educational standards are being met by the alternative settings. Current Zero Tolerance Policies Enactment and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance Policies Two states that enacted zero tolerance policies immediately following the passage of the GFSA of 1994 were Tennessee and Florida. Florida State Law 1006.13 mandates the following:

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28 the zero tolerance policy shall require st udents found to have committed one of the following offenses to be expelled, with or without continuing educat ional services, from the students regular school for a period of not less than 1 full year, and to be referred to the criminal justice or juvenile justice system: a) bringing a fi rearm or weapon to school, to any school function, or possessing a firearm at school, and b) making a violent threat or false report involving school or school pe rsonnels property, school transportation, or a schoolsponsored activity. (Florida Stat e Legislature, 2005, Public Law 1006.13) The legislation continues by stating, although edu cation and prevention are the preferred means of achieving safe schools, there must be a clear statement of policy that violence in schools will not be permitted (1006.13). The State of Flor ida, however, does not offer guidelines for a curriculum that districts can follow regarding the e ducation and prevention of violence. It is each districts responsibility to decide if they are going to f acilitate alternative education facilities or programs and how they are going to operate them. The law also states that Florida mandates all principals monitor the administration of discipline of students to ensure th at discipline is admini stered equitably without regard to real or perceived gender, race, religion, color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, an cestry, national origin, political beliefs, marital status, age, social and family background, linguistic preference, or disability (Florida State Legi slature, 2005, 1006.13). The lack of e quitability in Florida with regard to race has recently been questioned and highlighted in the 2005 NAACP report published in conjunction with the Advancement Project, along with many other reports and dissertations published in the past five years (Skiba, et al., 2006; Gregory, 1997) The lack of equitability in zero tolerance policies was also highlighted in 1 995 when the General Assembly for the State of Tennessee surpassed Florida when it enacted a new law that required a student who is in possession of a weapon, a controlled substance, or who committed battery against a [public school] employee be expelled for at least one calendar year (Potts, et al., 2003, p. 2). The Comptroller of the Treasury for the State of Tennessee was commi ssioned to conduct and compile an annual report for the state legislat ure on the implementation of the new policy. The

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29 Comptroller reported that, even though the num ber of students enrolled in Tennessee public schools is decreasing, the number of students expelled as a result of zero tolerance policies is increasing. This led the General Assembly memb ers to believe that there were a higher percentage of students with discipline and emotional problems ente ring the public school systems or that the zero tolerance policies were used for quick solutions to a variety of discipline issues. In reviewing a specific school board policy re garding zero tolerance, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS)the nations third largest pub lic school systemhas included the term zero tolerance in their Uniform Discipline Code si nce August 1995 (Chicago Board of Education, 1995). The school boards use of the term, though, is quite different from ot her school districts. Their zero tolerance policy does not necessarily imply an automa tic punishment. In their Policy Statement, CPS states a Zero Tolerance Policy will be enforced for students who commit acts of misconduct which seriously disrupt the orderly educational process ( p. 4) and those who are found to possess illegal drugs, firearms, or ot her dangerous weapons will be suspended immediately and face possible expulsion (p. 4) The phrase face possible expulsion is used instead of will face expulsion. The Uniform Discipline Code states that the use, possession, and/or concealment of a firearm/destructive de vice will result in pol ice notification and/or arrest, suspension for 10 days, and expulsion for a pe riod of not less than one calendar year, or as modified on a casebycase review by the Chief Executive Officer or designee (p. 9). The zero tolerance policies in Chicago are st ructured so that, instead of automatic expulsion, students are suspended and given a hear ing where an appropriate punishment can be determined. If it were determined that the st udent knowingly brought the drugs or firearms to school in order to do harm, the GFSA may be us ed as the impetus for expulsion. The difference

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30 between Chicagos policy and other school district policies is that the intent of th e infraction is examined. There are no automatic expulsions; inst ead, educational administrators must review the situation and circumstances and make appropria te decisions based on those facts. The school board, however, continues to use the term zero tolerance so that they can present themselves as being in alignment with the federal guidelines. Expert Opinions on Zero Tolerance Policies Currently over 90% of U.S. public school distri cts have some type of zero tolerance policy in place that extends the scope of the GFSA, while all 50 states now have zero tolerance policies mentioned somewhere in their state laws (Ver dugo & Glenn, 2002). Many educational leaders have questioned if the reason zero tolerance policies are still in place is that they truly deter violence or if they are an easy way for educati onal leaders to expel stud ents who traditionally perform poorly on standardized tests (McAndr ews, 2001). Expelling disruptive students who perform poorly in school can result in an increas e of the schools overall performance because discipline offenders are often low achievers (McAndrews, 2001). In the case of Florida, a schools actual letter-grade may increase if enough low performers are removed. With research indicating that zero tolerance policies are neither effective in reducing violent behavior in children nor implemented in a manner that is childcentered or equi table (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002, p. 2), some would wonder if the reason they are st ill so prevalent is so that principals have easy ways to rid lowperforming student s from their schools (McAndrews, 2001). Peterson (personal communication, April 22, 2005) st ated that there is no federal database available that tracks students who are suspended or expelled; this is strictly delegated to local school boards and some state boards of educa tion. In addition, even though there has been research conducted that proved similaritie s and differences between suspensions and incarcerations, Peterson believes it is not possible to prove what in fluence, if a ny, zero tolerance

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31 policies have on incarcerations themselves. What n eeds to be considered is whether or not these youths would still have been incarc erated in the course of their lifetime, even if they had not been suspended or expelled as a result of a zero tolerance policy while in school. Peterson realizes that this cannot easily be answered because of the numerous mitigating circumstances that surround most incarcer ations of juveniles. Peterson (personal communication, April 22, 20 05) also stated that research has demonstrated the effectiveness of angermanage ment programs in reducing the expulsion rate in schools. His program, Safe and Responsive Schools (SRS) is one that offers several levels of angermanagement and behavior modification awareness that school districts can adopt (Peterson, 2005). He referenced the Harvard Civil Rights Project Study (Skiba, 2003) that showed a reduction in the numbe r of referrals, suspensions, and absentees after enacting alternative programs to zero tolerance discipline policies. Skiba (personal communication, May 2, 2005) believes that many educational leaders adopted the idea that even the sma llest infractions must be given the strictest punishments so as to send a message to the rest of the student body that the administrati on was tough on violence. He also believes that the federal zero tole rance policies mandated by the GunFree Schools Act were based on assumptions that were never tested in 1994 and still have yet to be tested today. Skiba highlighted the lack of research regarding zero tolerance policies in his work with both the Harvard Civil Rights Project (Skiba, 2003) and the American Psychological Associations Zero Tolerance Taskforce (Skiba, Reynolds, Graham, Sheras Conoley, & GarciaVazquez, 2006). Effects of Zero Tolerance Policies on Student Behavior Students expelled from their schools for violat ing zero tolerance polic ies may eventually enroll in camps like those sponsored by the Nati onal Guard. Joe Jones, Cadet Coordinator for Youthcare at the Florida Youth Challenge (FYC) fac ility at Camp Blanding in Florida, facilitates

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32 a program for 12 yearolds who are in need of behavior modification as deemed by either themselves and/or their parents. Jones (pers onal communication, May 2, 2005) said the center is neither a juvenile detention center nor a jail. It accepts students who have been in misdemeanor trouble, with most of th eir cadets having been expelled from th eir local public schools as a direct result of violating a zero tole rance policy (if the expulsion invo lved a weapon, the felony charge must be dropped by the time they enter the FYC). The Florida Youth Challenge is a viable opt ion for many students who, for a variety of reasons, do not find success in th eir regular educationa l setting. Florida Yout h Challenge, located on the grounds of Camp Blanding near Starke, Florida, is one of 15 National Guard Youth Challenge Academies sponsored in the United St ates, with 23 more states on the National Guards waiting list, as hi ghlighted in April 24, 2006 by U.S. News & World Report (Kingsbury, 2006). Their success derives from the fact that, the teaching at the academies is strictly organized. Cadets take one section of the high school equivalency test at a time, focusing on reading, writing, and math. The testing method, which pairs an adult education model with the militarys instructional system, works. Nationwide, 70% of the students in the Challenge program earned their general equivalency diplomas. Thats nearly double th e 41% pass rate of other adult education programs. And cadets earn theirs in half the timeimproving an average of two grade levels in reading and math in only 5 months in class, for example. The cost of educating a cadet is 85% less than that of educating a high school studen tand far less than the cost of juvenile incarcerati on. (Kingsbury, 2006, p. 31) Both successful and costeffective, the academies have become viable alternatives to simply expelling children from re gular education settings. When asked why he believes so many youth still violate zero tole rance policies even though they are well aware the consequen ce is expulsion, Jones explained that, most kids dont take any res ponsibility for being expelled. They feel theyve been setup and are scared of the consequences only after theyve done something. Not one student that I work with ever weighed the consequences of his or her actions before committing the offense. (personal communication, May 2, 2005)

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33 Jones, an AfricanAmerican male and former U.S. Marine, believes that part of the blame for this mentality are the community values that many of his students come from, specifically poor AfricanAmerican and Caucasian families. Over th e course of several years working with such families, Jones sees a trend in that many parents believe the system is to blame, either because administrators are picking on thei r children or that certain teachers were disrespecting their child. Jones believes that some parents do not help re inforce responsibility in their children for the inappropriate actions they commit, and that so me parents actually believe the consequences should not apply to their children even though their ch ildren are guilty. Jones (personal communication, May 2, 2005) sp oke about the high percentage rate of students who, even after showing progress in th eir ninemonth behavior modification program and demonstrating a renewed interest in lead ing an honest life, fell back into gangs and unhealthy social circles once they returned to their local neighborhoods. He does not, however, view this as a failure in the program because he believes that, instead of having 30% of his graduates end up in jail by the time they ar e 21 yearsold (Jones, pe rsonal communication, May 2, 2005), he believes that percentage would be closer to 100% if FYC did not exist. In addition, Jones is quick to point out that there is a three-year waiting list with o ver 300 names of students who are trying to get one of th e 150 seats available in the upc oming classes of cadets. The funding sponsors of Jones program include th e Florida National Guard, the Department of Defense, and the Departments of Educati on in Tallahassee and Washington, DC. To the sponsors, the long waiting list is an apparent sign that their program is filling a void for students who have been suspended or expelled as a resu lt of violating zero tole rance policies in their districts.

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34 Rethinking Zero Tolerance Policies Referring once again to the annual report compile d by the Comptroller of Treasury for the State of Tennessee in regard to the implementati on of zero tolerance policies in that state, Ethel Detch, Director of the Office of Education Accountability for Tennessee, published in 2003 a synopsis of the recent thinking about zero tolera nce and presented it to the States General Assembly and the Governor. After communicating with her to clarify some of the key points made in the report, Detch (personal co mmunication, May 2, 2005) reiterated that, despite the policies widespread prevalence in the United States, zero tolerance may be falling out of favor among some educators and education resear chers. It could be argued that success with zero tolerance policies should result in yearly decreases in zero tolerance violations; instead in Tennessee the numbers have climbed at a faster rate than student enrollment. Some educators claim zero to lerance has become a catchall that administrators use to rid them selves of difficult students. Reversing longstanding campaigns ai med at keeping atrisk children in school, two experts believe zero tolerance policies are desi gned to seek and identify troublesome or potentially troublesome students and get them out of school (Blumenson & Nilson, 2003). Eric Blumenson of Harvard Law School and Eva Nilsen of Boston University attempted to answer the complex question of why, if zer o tolerance is falling out of favor among educators and researchers, does the federal and state governme nts still support it? First, to many parents disillusioned with the Columbinelike violence of the 1990s, isolation of bad students seems a safer bet than rehabilitation. Secondly, Blumen son and Nilsen believe that teachers and administrators have a number of incentives to retain zero tolerance po licies in their schools: federal aid is contingent on ma ndatory expulsions for weapon offenses; teachers are loathe to abandon a policy that efficiently rids the classroom of troublemak ers; and school administrators benefit because expelled students are often low achieving students who score poorly on the standardized tests that are incr easingly used to evaluate their schools (and sometimes their own

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35 performance as administrators). In addition, Floridas teachers who work in high performing schools (sometimes called A Schools) get fi nancially compensated for their students performance on the Florida Comprehensive Achi evement Test (FCAT), and starting in 2007 will even earn merit pay bonuses as approved by Governor Jeb Bush (Kaczor, 2006). Blumenson and Nilson (2003) believe that long gone are the days when suspensions or expulsions were saved for either the most serious offenses or fo r repeat offenders, adding that the new zero tolerance policy im poses expulsion or suspension fo r a wide rate of other conduct that previously would have been dealt with th rough afterschool dete ntions, withdrawals of privileges, counseling, mediation, and other met hods (p. 69). For example, in Connecticuts public schools, for kindergarten alone, the rate of suspensions/expulsi ons almost doubled over a twoyear period from 463 in 2001 to 901 reported for the 2002 school year (Gordon, 2003, p. 1). Gordon states th at the students were suspended and expelled for such things as fighting, defiance, and temper tantru ms, behaviors that are commonly found to be true with any 5yearold students (p. 1). The article poses two que stions for the reader: (a) who should be deciding that kindergarte ners need to be suspended; a nd (b) is the Connecticut version of a 5yearold really more violen t than any other states children? A leading expert in both mainstream American and Hispanic educat ional research, Tobin McAndrews article Zero-Tolerance Policies has been influential in both the Englishspeaking and Spanishspeaking communities regarding evaluation of the perception of zero tolerance policies (McAndrews, 2001). McAndrews cites a 2000 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) study that determined zero tolerance policies had little e ffect over a fouryear implementation period in previously deemed uns afe schools. The study al so reports that the current data do not demonstrate a decrease in schoolbased viol ence since the passage of the

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36 GFSA. His belief is that the popul arity of zero tolerance policies may have less to do with their actual effect than the image they portray of schools taki ng resolute measures to prevent violence, adding that whether the policies actually change student behavior may be less important than the reassurance it gives the school community at large (p. 6). This belief is supported by a 1999 study conducted by Diane Rav itch for the Washington, DC based Brookings Institute, who concluded that the image of be ing tough on crime in schools was more important than whether or not student behavior wa s actually being modified (Ravitch, 1999). An additional report that attempted to review the effectiveness of zero tolerance policies was conducted by the Center for Dise ase Control and Prevention in 2003: in contrast to the 3,523 firearms reported as confiscated under th e GunFree Schools Act in the 1998 school year, schoo l surveys indicate that an estimated 3% of the 12th grade population (i.e., 85,350 stude nts) reported carrying fire arms on school property one or more times in the previous 30 days. Thus, even if only 12th grade students carry firearms, fewer than 4.3% of firearms are bei ng detected in association with the GunFree Schools Act. (Hahn & Bilukha, 2003, p. 20) The results of this survey proved that schools, despite having zero tolera nce in place for nine years, still have students bringi ng guns to school, implying that the goal of eradicating guns from schools with the use of zero tolerance policies had failed. Hyman and Snook (1999) describe the abusiv e nature of zero tolerance policies on otherwise nonviolent childre n in their 1999 book titled Dangerous Schools: What We Can Do about the Physical and Emotional Abuse of Children Their belief is that educational leaders should stop criminalizing student behavior in school s because they are turning what should be an educational experience into a punishmentorientated culture wh ere all children are presumed guilty until they are proven innocent, a paradox for the way in which adults are treated in our society. Hyman and Snook express th eir professional opinio n that the only solution to reforming zero tolerance policies is to zer o them out [of the schools].

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37 In Florida, Juvenile Judge J. Michael Traynor sees 400 to 450 juveniles a week in his St. Augustine courtroom (Prior, 2005 ). Traynor believes that, in some ways, the schools and parents have turn ed to the courts for things that maybe in prior years would have been handled at home or in school. I believe it is because schools are reluctant to use any punishment other than suspension or alternative schools. Some students arent receptive to that type of discipline. In addi tion, there are parents who are unable to discipline their children, and they look to the courts for assistance. (p. 6) As judges see an increase in the juvenile case s in their courtrooms, school boards across the country are calling for yet harsher punishment s for misbehaving students, a dilemma many educational leaders must face when deciding wh ether or not to suspend students (Arndorfer & James, 2005). The reason derives from the fact th at school boards feel th ey are faced with an even more pressing issue: reta ining teachers. Arndorfer and Ja mes reported the findings from a 2004 Public Agenda survey of teachers, stating that more than one in three teachers said they had considered leaving the profession because of student discipline (p. 5A). This problem is accentuated for school districts serving low socio economic populations that already have a hard time recruiting and retaining teachers. Recent Changes in Zero Tolerance Policies With the increased momentum that zero tolerance policies were having in primary and secondary schools during the late 1980s and early 1990s, their popularity decreased in the areas that initially made them common. For example, the U.S. Customs Service discontinued its practice of impounding vehicles and vessels becaus e of the controversy due to the numerous American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuits that were filed agai nst it (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). The U.S. Customs officials that made the programs popular in the la te 1980s realized that policies with automatic punishments were not only ineffective in changing behavior, but were also fundamentally unjust and most likely unconstitutional (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003).

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38 In addition, the State of Texas, with the support of Texas Gover nor Perry and State legislators, reformed the way in which zero to lerance policies would be enforced in Texas starting with the 2006 school y ear (Crowley, 2007). In keeping with the federal guidelines that mandate someone who brings a gun to school be expelled for no less than 365 school days, Texas lawmakers passed legislation of their ow n that mandates all zero tolerance policies must include an investigation by the educ ational leadership of the distri ct (principal, superintendents office, etc.) as to the intent of bringing the object to school (Skiba, et al., 2006). Following the decision from the legislators to re form Texas zero tolerance laws Marc Levin, the, director of the Center for Effective Justice at th e Texas Public Policy Foundation, said: we applaud the Legislature for making much n eeded reforms to Texas' zero tolerance law. During this session, we learned of exemplary students who were expe lled to a juvenile justice facility for unintentional mistakes, su ch as unknowingly bringing a pocket knife to school that was left in a jack et after hunting the day before or taking prescription pain relief medication at lunch. This legislation cl arifies that expulsion is not required in such circumstances. It will restore common sense to the system by allowing school administrators to consider the intent and pr ior disciplinary of such students, if any, in determining the appropriate punishment. (Texas Public Policy Foundation, 2) Those that believe zero tolerance policies have overstepped their limits are watching Texas educational leaders as they attempt to restor e common sense into their discipline policies. Alternatives to Zero Tolerance Punishments in Florida Alternatives already exist fo r those seeking to rely less on automatic punishments for behaviors. Throughout the country, some school boards and committees are dedicating more time to finding other options to zero tolerance policies (Arndo rfer & James, 2005). One such alternative program is between the University of Florida and the University of Oregon known as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBS), funded by the U.S. Department of Education and until July 2006 facilitated in Flor ida by University of Florida professor Terry

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39 Scott. Scott (personal communi cation, May 2, 2005) promotes the theory that, when you have zero tolerance, you have zero options. Of the many programs developed as alternatives to suspensions, Scotts program is one of the few based on hard data. His work places him in schools across the United States and Canada where he leads onsite training to help the admi nistration and faculty discover the multitude of alternatives to automatically suspending or expelling students by as king teachers to use a standardized referral system so that they can see where the problem areas exist in their school. Highlighting the successes he found in implemen ting the program in Alachua County, Florida, Scott said that several PBS programs in mi ddle and high schools found very high approval ratings from the parents, faculty, students, and educational leaders (personal communication, May 2, 2005). While supporting alternatives to suspensions and expulsions Scott explained in a 2005 The Gainesville Sun article that he believes suspension is stil l a necessary compone nt to a schools bag of tricks, adding that it should be used when the safety of other students and school personnel is at issue so as to remove and se parate the dangerous student from the situation (Arndorfer & James, 2005, p. 5A). He continue s by saying for lesser offenses, sometimes suspension can make things worse because sometimes kids do those behaviors because they do not want to be in school and they know they will be allowed to go home if they act out (p. 5A). This eliminates the deterrence factor th at is the fundamental philosophy and component behind suspensions and expulsions. Instead of de creasing unwanted beha vior, the threat of suspension or expulsion may actually increase it as a form of positive reinforcement. Scott (personal communication, May 2, 2005) said the purpose of PBS is t o create environments that

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40 dont have to result in susp ensions or expulsions by deve loping schoolwide agreements on appropriate behavior. A second alternative to automatic suspensions and expulsions is the Safe and Responsive Schools program developed and codirected by Sk iba and Peterson. This program differs from PBS in that, instead of focusing on one main discipline problem, the program emphasizes different levels of misbehavior, with each leve l having a different consequence to the action. For example, minor disruptions in the classroom may have the cons equence of having the students parent come sit beside the st udent for a day (Peterson, 2005). Th e advantage to this type of program is that it fosters a new level of discipline and respect be tween teachers and students that result in an increase in understa nding between both parties of wh at is expected behavior. Like Scotts program, this program can also be modifi ed to address specific needs in the educational community. In the spring of 2005, an entire edition of Educational Leadership highlighted how schools can improve, with a major aspect being their discip line policies. One alternative to zero tolerance policies is found in the Kentucky Instructional Di scipline and Support (KIDS) Project, a program developed by the Kentucky Department of Educati on in association with a behavior management program called Foundations: Establishing Positi ve Discipline Policies (McCloud, 2005). Instead of assigning the typical punishment intended to exclude misbehaving students from the school community through suspension and expulsions, th e KIDS Project aims to install a new management system in schools that creates a level of mutual respect between students themselves and between teachers and students (McCloud, 2005). Prior to the implementation of the KIDS Pr oject, T. C. Cherry Elementary School in Bowling Green, Kentucky dispensed 880 disciplin ary referrals in the 1997 school year and

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41 was in the 56th percentile for the normreferenced standa rdized test used in Kentucky (McCloud, 2005). In the 2002 school year, three years after the KIDS Project was implemented in the school, there were only 30 disciplinary referrals, compared to the 880 previously administered, and the students average score rose to the 78th percentile, earning Cherry Elementary the distinction of becoming a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School (an honor awarded to only 233 schools across the nation that year). Since the three years of implementation, both the teachers and students surveyed say that there ha s been a positive increase in the school climate with a corresponding decrease in the number of re ferrals to the office for disciplinary reasons (McCloud, 2005). The principal of Cherry Elementary claims that encouraging good behavior has become just as important as discouragi ng bad behavior, with the implemen tation of a reward system that recognizes positive behaviors and improvements (McCloud, 2005). The faculty and educational leaders discovered that they enjoyed their jobs much more when they focused their energy on proactive, positive approaches to student behavior instead of, as the principal says, the typical detentions, suspensions, and expulsi ons that tend to be more react ive, punitive, and exclusionary than they are educational (p. 47). While the principal is the first to admit that not all of the problems have magically disappeared, she does stat e that there is a new sense of ownership of ones behavior and achievements, something that had been lacking at her school prior to the KIDS Project. One other alternative to expe lling students out onto the st reets through the use of zero tolerance policies involves accepting the fact that not all kids are suited for the same, traditional learning environment. Realizing that some ch ildren can not handle all of the pressures and stimuli found in the large public schools that are prevalent th roughout Florida, incorporating

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42 more options like the Florida Youth Challenge (F YC) program into Floridas regular education curriculum may keep more children in learning e nvironments and fewer children in the juvenile justice systems or simply off the streets. Ev en Floridas parochial schools are beginning to entertain the idea that not all children succeed in the traditional classroom, as demonstrated by the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustines CampRisk program (Marywood Retreat Center, 2005). Programs like CampRisk combine low student/teacher ratios with fun and games, workshops presented by Florida Statecertifie d guidance counselors, and lessons on faith, friendships, parents, schools, and the world around the students in a manner that fosters ownership and responsibility for their own ac tions (Marywood Retrea t Center, 2005). While programs like FYC and CampRisk are sometimes la beled by educational leaders as Boot Camps or Brat Camps (as popularized by ABCs 2006 television program titled Brat Camp ), these programs could become an avenue for keeping tr oubled and unmanageable children in a learning environment while still following the gui delines of the GunFree Schools Act. The purpose of implementing these types of pr ograms or camps would not exclusively be for corrective measure, but also for preventa tive ones. Both of these camps teach anger management skills and personal responsibility in addition to having statecertified faculty teach the basic educational curriculum found in all of Floridas school s. Unlike the juvenile justice facilities in Florida that have recently received bad publicity for their phy sical abuse of children, no physical restraining or force is used in th e afore mentioned behavi or modification programs (Leary, 2006) Most educational leaders now believ e that spanking or hitti ng children is not the answer to modifying the behaviors of youth (Nordling, 1999). Everythi ng taught in these programs centers around changing ones mindset and accepting ownership for ones own

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43 behavior instead of relying on pr escribed zero tolerance guidelin es that offer no direction for children on how to live (Mar ywood Retreat Center, 2005). In 1995, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Paul Vallas to be the citys first chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schoo ls. Mr. Vallas, along with his chief education officer Lynn St. James, unveiled a plan to create residential faci lities within public schools for children who are homeless, in the care of the De partment of Children and Family Services, or who have been suspended or expelled from their regularly zoned sc hools (Catalyst Chicago, 2006). St. James, the first AfricanAmerican to hol d her position in the Chicago Public Schools, proposed implementing a residentialstyle program similar to the FYC as an alternative to suspending and expelling student s in Chicago. She believed that by expelling troubled youth from their local public schools and sending them back into their communities would be more detrimental to them and society because, unlike be ing in an educational setting, they would be unsupervised and more likely to engage in inappropr iate and illegal behavior She felt so strongly about the need to break the schoolhousetojail house trend that she asked the City of Chicago to fully fund the program by building dormitories fo r the students so that they would not have to return to their troubled neighborhoods at nigh ts and on weekends (Catalyst Chicago, 2006). What seemed like an advancement for educa tional leaders who wanted to avoid pushing suspended students onto the street was interpreted by a small group of parents as a racist attempt to force black males out of the general st udent population. Even though St. James was an AfricanAmerican herself, her pr oposal was received in an unfla ttering environment, one that eventually led to the nonrenewal of her cont ract one year after she had accepted her position. This last alternative option, a lthough proven effective in raising graduation rates and lowering the percentage of students who eventually are inca rcerated, is considered the most controversial

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44 of all alternatives because of its stigma of being more a military camp or a detention center than an educational setting. Student Codes of Conduct Discipline codes, the heart of the legal approach to stude nt discipline, are outlined in each districts Student Code of Conduct, documen ts that are available to the public (Brown & Beckett, 2006, p. 241). These codes serve as guide lines for principals wh en enforcing district discipline policy. One criticism of Student C odes of Conduct is that they serve the administrators purpose of being th e authority to cite in support of disciplinary action but they offer little guidance to students in defini ng what conduct is prohibited and punishable (Goldsmith, 1982, p. 188). Another criticism is that Student Codes of Conduct were often written more than 20 years ago without any input from the parents of current students who actually attended the schools (Brown & B eckett, 2006). Florida State Law requires that schools include a policy in their Student Codes of Conduct that ma ndates students be expelled for no less than 365 days if a gun is brought to school. This is known as the zero tolerance against guns clause. The State of Florida has given school di stricts the latitude to write th eir individual St udent Codes of Conduct, and thus, their own zero to lerance policies. The result is th at some districts have zero tolerance policies that mandate suspensions or expulsions for in fractions such as the possession of knives and drugs, while other districts policies in Florida only include guns. Elements of Zero Tolerance Discipline Policies Reasons for why school districts decide to incl ude certain elements in their zero tolerance policies, while choosing to exclude other elemen ts, are based on community values (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003). Some experts sugg est that local community values influence districts decisions to include, for example, the carrying of knives as something that will not result in an automatic suspension whereas other communities may demand th at the school district has zero tolerance

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45 for knives, thereby suspending or expelling a st udent who is found in the possession of one of campus (Blumenson & Nilsen, 2003). Whether it is because one community fosters an environment where sports involvi ng knives are more widely pr acticed (hunting, fishing, etc.) versus another community where knives are more widely used in crimes (gang activity, drug dealing, etc.), the expectati ons and values of community members often reflect on which elements the school districts will decide to in clude when developing ze ro tolerance policies. Other experts believe certain elements are incl uded in zero tolerance po licies as a result of communities and school districts reacting to traumatic events that occurred either within their districts or that occurre d in other districts that were heavily reported by the national news (Skiba, et al., 2006). For example, when there is a schoo l shooting or when bullying has led to the death or suicide of a student, community members call upon their local school dist ricts to address how effectively or ineffectively their own policies on guns or bullying are work ing. Yet others believe that certain elements find their way into school di stricts zero tolerance policies as a result of litigation in the court system. When judges a pprove million dollar lawsuits to families whose children have been affected by a discipline policy that the familie s believe was unfair or unjust, school districts are quick to cha nge their policies so that they are not the next district being forced to pay millions in compensation. An example of a judges influence on policy is the June 2006 decision by a federal judge to award $1.6 million to families of 140 students who were subjected to drugsniffing dog searches in a South Carolina High School (Marek, 2006). The muchpublicized story, whose images were taped using the schools own surveillance camer as and replayed on the nightly news in 2003, depicted police officers with th eir guns drawn rounding up scared and crying students, subjecting them to drug searches while the principa l stood nearby and watched (Marek, 2006). The

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46 principal resigned soon after the incident becau se not a single drug was found on any of the students, nor was an arrest made that day. Even though no admission of wrongdoing was included in the settlement, both the school and police have revamped their student search policies (Marek, 2006, p. 21). In deciding which elements of zero toleran ce to examine in this study, six variables emerged from the literature review that were co mmonly included in school districts discipline policies in regard to mandatory, or automatic, puni shments: (a) an inclusion of the definition of the term zero tolerance, (b) the inclusion of a zero tolerance po licy against guns, (c) the inclusion of a zero tolerance policy agains t knives, (d) the inclusion of a zero tolerance policy against drugs, (e) the inclusion of a zero tolerance polic y against bullying, and (f) a description of a place where students who were suspended or ex pelled could still go to receive educational services, often called an altern ative education setting. Each of these variables became their own research question, with their own subsequent literature review to support their inclusion in this study. Defining the Term Zero Tolerance Definitions reflect our language and understanding, acting as the common unifier between thoughts and words. Dr. Friedgan (2003), Director of Data Cartography, Inco rporated, reiterated this belief in his publication ti tled, Importance of Definitions when he stated, a government organization must provide informa tion to the general public. With all the extern al scrutiny, the requirements on the quality of definitions are hi gh( 9). For a person to simply learn a new word is not useful unless a co rresponding definition of what th at word means accompanies the proper annunciation of the word. Two individual s may say the same word, but associate two entirely different meanings to the word and apply the word in two circumstances that are irrelevant or inconsistent with the other meaning.

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47 There are a number of ways that Friedgan ( 2003) believes it is po ssible to acquire an official definition for a new wor d. The most common is to find an influential sponsor of the new word and persuade them to adopt the new word. This is sometimes accomplished through celebrity status, with the new word becoming ex clusively associated and attributed to that particular celebrity (i.e. Pari s Hilton, rapper Lil John, etc. ). Another common method is by having an influential organization adopt the word, like a national nonprofit organization or a federal organization (i.e. National Education Association, U.S. Depart ment of Justice, etc.). The third is the doityourself method, which us ually entails an othe rwise unknown individual publishing a book or article that becomes popular and thereby, popularizing the word or phrase and the definition associated with its usage (The Tipping Po int, Moving My Cheese, etc.) School districts often use the same words in their Student Codes of Conduct but associate different meanings to the words. For example, what one district consid ers a weapon or drug may not be what another district would punish a student for posse ssing, even if both had policies against the possession of weapons or drugs. The same applies for sc hool districts application of the term zero tolerance. One district may apply the term l oosely, stating that they have a zero tolerance against violence in their district, but never defining for the reader what exactly that means. Other districts may list specific offenses as Zero Tolerance Offenses, but fail to provide specific consequences for those offenses. Still othe r districts may list specific offenses that result in suspension or expulsion, but choose not to categorize them as Zer o Tolerance Offenses. Students are usually provided a hardcopy of th eir schools Student Code of Conduct at the beginning of every school year. In many school dist ricts, their parents mu st sign a letter and return the letter to the school, signifying that they received a copy of the booklet and discussed it with their children. The Student Codes of C onduct contain rules and procedures by which

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48 students are bound to obey if they wa nt to attend school in that di strict. In reading the Student Code of Conduct, parents may read terms or phrases that they have heard used in the media and in their community (i.e. firearms, weapons, zero to lerance, etc.), but they may not know how the terms apply to the context of punishing their childre n. In order for terms used in policies to have meaning to them, Friedgan (2003) contends th at the consumer of the words must understand the overall constructs that support the usage of the words ( 12). Without understanding the constructs, the words themselves have littl e or no meaning, resulting in the reader not comprehending the text. Applying this logic to po licies found in Student Codes of Conduct that fail to define the term zero tolerance the policies themselves, as well as the deterrence factor that these policies are created to in still in students, have little m eaning to the students or parents. Guns Under the GunFree Schools Act of 1994, in orde r for school districts to receive federal education funds, their Student Codes of Conduct mu st have included a clau se, usually referred to as a zero tolerance clause but also sometime s referred to as an automatic or mandatory punishment, which expelled students for no le ss than 365 days for having guns on campus. State legislatures and school di stricts were quick to adopt this policy, most of them welcoming a mandate that was uniform in nature. It removed pot entially dangerous students from their schools and it removed racial disparities that some e ducational leaders believed were present in the dispensing of punishments (Skiba, 2003). Guns, how ever, still remain a concern for educational leaders because they are still being brought into the schools. The U.S. Department of Educations Office of Safe and DrugFree Schools published its most recent report in February 2006 titled Report on the Implementati on of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 in the States and Outly ing Areas: School Year 2002-2003 which highlighted the fact that, even after eight years of nationwide po licies which require mandatory expulsions for gun

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49 possession, a total of 2,143 students were expelled from school for bringing a firearm to school or possessing a firearm at school (p. 9). The report also stated that 58% of the expulsions were students in senior high school, 31% were in junior high, and 11% were in elementary school. The statistical proportions of expulsions by wea pons found in Americas schools during the 2002 2003 school year were % of the expulsions were for bringing or possessing a handgun, 32% were for some other type of fi rearm or other destructive device, such as bombs, grenades, or starter pistols, and 13% of the expulsions were for bringing or possessing a rifle or shotgun to school (p. 9). The report provided a state bystate breakdown of student s who were found to have brought a firearm to school. In Florida there were 54 students that receiv ed expulsions during the 2002 for carrying a gun to school, with one of those an elementary school student (U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drugfree Schools, 2006). The number of expulsions from the 2001 school year was only 51. Therefore, despite eight years of zero tolerance policies in Fl orida, the February 2006 report represented an increase in the number of students bringing weapons to school in Florida, not a decrease like many proponents of zero tolerance policies had expected. Knives In the 2002 survey conducted on 829 elementa ry and secondary education instructors, approximately 50% of the secondary teachers said they had personally seen a knife on at least one of their students within the past year wh ile 17% of elementary teachers said they had personally seen a knife on at least one of th eir students (Education Publishing Company, 2006). These statistics only represent the knives that were on campus and actually seen by teachers, excluding all of those not seen by teachers. Another study conducted in 2000 and performed ancillary to the national School Crime and Safety Survey, focused exclusively on students who

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50 brought weapons other than guns to school. This study revealed that knives were a bigger concern to teachers than were guns (Corvo, 2000). Drugs The 2004 Monitoring the Future survey repo rted that drug usage is making a rebound, the first signs that there is a slight increase in drug usage following 30 years of drug decreases among Americas 8th graders (Chepesiuk, 2005). Even though th is could result in some districts implementing harsher discipline policies, educ ational psychologist Ce cil Reynolds of Texas A&M University promotes the belie f that bringing aspi rin to school is not the same as bringing cocaine (Elias, 2006). He notes that students should not be punished as if they had committed the same offense under the zero tolera nce for drugs policies that are so prevalen t across the nation, a viewpoint he shared with other panel members at the 2006 American Psychological Associations (APA) August 2006 m eeting (Elias, 2006). As a resu lt of the conference, the American Psychological Association issued an official statement condemning U.S. schools for their zero tolerance drug and viol ence policies, claiming that the policies actually may be promoting misbehavior and making students fe el more anxious (p. 6d). The APA called upon educational leaders to exercise more flexibil ity and common sense in applying the policies, reserving zero tolerance for the most seri ous threats to school safety (p. 6d). The Office of National Drug Control Policy ( ONDCP) reported in 2005 that students have at their disposal more than 1,000 readily available products that can be used as inhalants, all of which might result in students being suspended or expelled under some school districts zero tolerance policies Chepesi uk, 2005). The definition of a drug is difficult to determine when anything from liquid correcti on fluid (commonly referred to as WhiteOut) or womens menstrual pain relievers (like Mi dol) have been used to expe l students under the premise of enforcing zero tolerance policies. While most di stricts have mandatory punishments for students

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51 who possess heroin, cocaine, or other federally prohibited drugs, few dist ricts actually define what they consider to be a drug in their St udent Code of Conduct, leaving no choice for educational leaders to punish children when they find something such as an aspirin in students backpacks. Bullying and Harassment Educational leaders and teachers have the uni que role of making personal connections and shaping young students attitudes beyond the academic scope of the classroom. This role places them in loco parentis, a position that requires th em to do everything in their power to prevent violent incidences on campus just as if they were the childs parents protecting them from violence outside of school. Vi olent incidences at school, howev er, can take many forms. Over the past 20 years, bullying has become one of the main impetuses for student violence and absenteeism from school. Between 1989 and 1995, % of high school students nationwide missed at least one day of class during the 30 days prior to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey because they felt unsafe at or in route to or from school (Y oung, Autry, Lee, Messemer, Roach, & Smit, 2002, p. 107). The 2003 report Crime and Safety Surveys, published by the National Center on Education Statistics (N CES), found that, during the 1999 school year, 29% of schools reported having more difficulty with student bullying than with any other single discipline problem (U.S. Departme nt of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, 2000). A similar 2005 NCES report, Indicators of School Crime and Safety, found that in 2003, students' grade levels were inve rsely related to the likelihood that they w ould be bullied, with 14% of sixthgraders, 7% of ni nthgraders, and 2% of 12thgrad ers reporting being bullied at school (Christie, 2005). Overall, 7% of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported that they had been bullied at school in the last six mont hs, up from 5% in 1999. Parents are increasingly

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52 demanding that educational leader s accept the challenge of creati ng school cultures that are void of bullying, a challenge that many distri cts across the nation have now accepted. On September 13, 2006, Kimveer Gill walked onto the campus of Dawson College in Montreal, Canada and indiscriminately began shooting at students (Couvrette, 2006). The police investigation later discovered that Gill had acknowledged in his online blog that the bullying he received growing up as an Indianborn Canadian contri buted to his belief that the vast majority of people are worthless, no good, betraying, lying, and deceptive ( 13). He continued in another blog posting with the message, Stop bullying. Its not only the bullys fault you know, adding that teachers and principals are also to blame for turni ng a blind eye, and police for not doing anything when people complain ( 20). Gills disassociation with society eventually led to him shooting one college student to death and hospitalizing 19 others in what police describe as a ColumbineStyle School Shooting that occurred in the cafeteria ( 2). Gill was eventually shot dead by police in the college cafeteria while he was hiding behind a vending machine. Exactly one year to the day earlier in Illinois, on September 13, 2005 a 16yearold female student of Sandburg High School was beaten by other female students of Sandburg while being videotaped in one of their homes. Following the day that the video of the beating became public, the student was bullied daily because of the bad publicity the incident had given the school. She continued to go to school with a sense of fear b ecause she perceived few st udents were sympathetic to her situation. The students parents pressed criminal charges against the students who carried out the videotaped beating (Greco, 2006). Sandburg High School is one of three high schools in the Consolidated High School District 230, located in one of the affluent suburbs of Ch icago, Illinois (School District Website, 2006). The student, her mother, and New York Times be stselling author Jodee Blanoc, whose 2003 book, Please Stop Laughing at Me: One Womans Inspirational Story detailed her years of being bullied,

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53 beaten, and tormented while she was a student at Sandburg high school in the 1980s, made impassioned pleas to the school board members on January 27, 2006 to enact an antibullying program immediately. Since the beating, the girl ha s been ridiculed on blogs and has to deal with teachers being remiss of her trauma (Greco, 2006) Blogs, online forums where students can type messages to one another, have become another place where students can bully other students and where threats, even to ones life, have become more prevalent since 2004 (Greco, 2006). Even though the beating did not occur on school property, the districts school board members addressed the issue by implementing a policy against bullying. Educational leaders realize that, even when bullies make threats to other students outside of the school environment, often times those threats are acted out in the school hallways, locker rooms, cafeteria, or parking lots. Since the 1970s, the U.S. Department of Education (formerly the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) ha s considered bullying problematic (Mooij, 2005). Bullying is not a new phenomenon. In fact, most adults can recall who the bullies were in their childhood days and who were the bullied. Unlike the bullied of the past that were intimated by others for their lunch money and left with no recourse, todays youth that are bullied are retaliating in sometimes violent and fatal ways. The total number of multiplevictim violent events occurring at schools is on the rise, with the killers usually leaving notes or videos behind saying that they were tired of being bullied (Young, et al., 2002). This creates new challenges for administrators when identifying likely aggressors on their campuses. This trend is coupled with the fact that data indicates girls, while us ually in less attention grabbing ways, are as aggressive at bullyi ng as boys (Dutton, 2003, p. 58). This is evident on blogs and other forms of cyberbullying where gi rls are 74% more likely than boys to inflict virtual abuse through instant me ssaging, online conversations, a nd emails (Keith & Martin, 2005, p. 225). Data also indicate that people of both sexes tend to bully th ose of their same sex

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54 (Sweeney, 2005). The Sandburg High School girls proved that female bullies are becoming a force that educational leaders need to pay close attention to, in addition to the male bullies. In order for educational leaders and school board members to effectively prevent violence at schools, many districts are adopt ing zero tolerance policies for bullying in order to cease bullying incidents both inside a nd outside of their schools. Options for an Alternative Educational Setting Zero tolerance is often viewed by its proponent s as a teaching tool, relaying the message to students and the community that students who misbehave will be removed from the regular classroom environment (Skiba, 2003). It is not uncommon for parents of nonviolent children, as well as many teachers, to demand that violent ch ildren be removed from the regular classroom settings so as to protect the other children. The dilemma then becomes a question of where to place these children who could still benefit from an educational opportunity. Russell Skiba, presenting his research at the 2006 American Ps ychological Association conference, testified that, there are growing signs that zerotolerance policies are steering more teens into the juvenile justice system (Elias, 2006, p. 6d). Many e xperts do not believe this is an effective way of modifying behavior (Noguera 1995). In fact, research sugg ests that higher juvenile incarceration rates predict higher rates of future misbehavior as adults and perpetuate violence (Noguera, 1995), leading th e panel of experts to believe that zero tolerance policies actually result in more harm to the overall society than good. Many school districts have invested their money in creating alternative educational settings. These settings range from large facili ties housed in oncecondemned schools, to a few classrooms in a designated part of a building. The U.S. Department of Educations Office of Safe and DrugFree Schools (2006) report s that less than 35% of all expelled students have the opportunity to attend an alternat ive educational setting (U.S. De partment of Education, 2006). In

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55 Florida, the rate is 57%, due to Floridas state law that en courages districts to provide educational services to expelled st udents in an alternative setti ng as well as supporting the implementation of educational services in altern ative settings as it relates to students who have been expelled under the GFSA (p. 36). While Floridas rate of 57% is much higher than the national average of 35%, it still leaves approximately half of the students expelled with nowhere to go. The result of communities not funding alternative educational se ttings available to help cha nge the misbehavior of these expelled students is that these students find th emselves repeating the same misbehavior within those same communities, often times resulting in the students becoming incarcerated and the communities paying for them to live in juvenile de tention centers or county prisons. This raises the question as to whether or not it would be mo re beneficial for commun ities to invest their resources in building alternativ e educational settings instead of continuing to expand their juvenile correction facilities or in building more prisons. Summary The zero tolerance policies often implemen ted in schools today and mandated by the GFSA are meant to punis h and expel rather than to edu cate children on how to make better choices (Verdugo & Glenn, 2002). Zero tolerance policies, originally meant to keep guns out of schools, have evolved into a series of broad, allencompassing policies that now expel students as young as 5yearsold for having temper tantru ms in their kindergarten classrooms or for bringing a toy axe to their kinde rgarten Halloween party. School s, however, can have violent students attend them and few edu cational leaders would argue ag ainst removing truly dangerous students from their regular educatio n settings in order to protect th e teachers and the rest of the student population. The failure of zero tolerance policies to k eep guns out of schools 13 years after the implementation of th e GunFree Schools Act has led so me educational leaders to

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56 question their continued viability as more cas es are exposed of nonviolent children being expelled or sent to juveni le detention facilities.

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57 CHAPTER 3 THE STUDY Overview of the Method The purpose of the study was to determine di fferences in the Student Codes of Conduct developed by Floridas large and small school di stricts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the implementati on of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. The 67 districts were divided into two categories base d on student population, with the mathematically natural divide being those districts ove r 15,000 students in one category (33 di stricts) and those districts with fewer than 15,000 students in a second category (34 districts). Once the dist ricts were classified into two categories based on student populations, their policies were analyzed to discover the similarities and differences. This study was designed to answer wh ether there are differences in the content of the policies between Floridas larg e and small districts as they pertain to zero tolerance for discipline guidelines found in the Student Codes of Conduct. This study also sought to develop elements of a model Student Code of Conduct that all school districts could implement. This chapter contains an overview of how the policy analysis was conducted and the methodology supporting the analysis. Overview of the Study The data collected were used to conduct a policy analysis foll owing the guidelines established by McMillian and Schumacher (2006) as well as Neuendorf (2002). McMillian and Schumacher stated that policy analysis evalua tes government policies to provide policymakers with pragmatic, actionoriented recommendations (p. 448). In c onducting the analysis, numeric values were assigned to variables in the policies. These values were then used to help define the scope of the educational problem, formulat e the research question, and develop policy alternatives and recommendations. Through this res earch and a comprehensive literature review,

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58 elements of a model Student Code of Conduct were developed that incorp orated the mandates of the GunFree School Act of 1994 and recommendati ons for school district s to reduce expulsions with the intent of keep ing more students in an educational setting. In using public documents like Student Codes of Conduct, a focused synthesis of current zero toleran ce policies was developed. With this goal as the objective, this study wa s intended to enlighten decision makers about issues, problem definitions, or new ideas for alternative actions (McMillian & Schumacher, p. 450). Neuendorf (2002) suggested that a quantitative policy analysis must rely on the process of producing counts of key categories, and measurements of the amounts of other variables (p. 14). Counts are words or phrases that are then transformed into numbers for coding purposes. When the counts were coded in this study, comp arisons between the large school districts and small school districts were made using the mode s, means, and medians of the coded words Overview of Policy Analysis Analyzing current policy, whether in the fiel d of education or in the social sciences, requires a clear understanding of how the policy wa s derived, its original intentions, and its perceived outcomes. If those outcomes are not me t, then the policy should be revisited and possibly revised. Much has been written about th e process by which policies are analyzed. One of the field experts in methods for policy research, Ann Majchrzak (1984), viewed policy analysis as one method of discovering how po licies have been adopted by members in the community. In this analysis, it is important to ch oose variables that can be changed to improve the social problem (p. 50). For example, a distri ct cannot choose which types of children enter through its doors each day, but a district can choose how it treats those children. Policies should focus on these variables since th e objective of policy research is to provide policymakers [in

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59 this case, district school board officials and members] with useful recommendations (Majchrzak, p. 50). One purpose of researching and writing a dissert ation is to eventually have it used in a field of study (McMillan & Schumacher, 2006). Polic y analysis that uses diverse criteria for worth and contains more comprehensive information, such as program context and implementation, is seen as more influential than a policy analysis incorporating only one variable (p. 450). This study incorporated six di fferent research variab les, each with its own significance as zero tolerance polic ies in Florida are compared. Through the analysis of these variables, similarities and differences emerged as to how Florida school districts implemented the mandates outlined by the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. Theoretical Framework of the Study The epistemology, or philosophical theory of knowledge (Websters Dictionary, Inc., 2006), relied on a framework of objectivism supp orted by a theory of positivism. Relating objectivism to a study on zero tolerance policies im plies that objective truths exists apart from imposing personal meaning to events or occurr ences. Through the lite rature review, it was demonstrated that elements of a model Student Code of Conduct could be developed that would incorporate the GunFree School Act of 1994 ma ndates and options to remediate student behavior in an educational setting. The theory of positivism supports the idea that factual and actual experience, not opinions or hypothetical situations, were used to develop the model elements for the school districts to impl ement in their Student Codes of Conduct. The policy analysis was designed to answer the following questions: Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of Floridas small and large districts that include a definiti on of what the term zero tolerance means and how it relates to discipline?

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60 Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include guns in their zero tolerance policies? Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include knives in their zero tolerance policies? Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include drugs in their zero tolerance policies? Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include bullying or harassment in their zero tolerance policies? Is there a difference in the Student Codes of Co nduct of small and large districts that include provisions allowing for students to attend altern ative educational settings if they violate a zero tolerance policy? Data Sources The State of Florida is relative ly unique in that it is comp rised of 67 counties with each county having a single school district and school board that represen ts the people of that county. The largest district has a st udent population of over 250,000, while the smallest district has approximately 1,300 students. Floridas smallest district, however, is comparable to many medium-sized districts in other states (Wisc onsin, Oklahoma, Michigan, etc.), where many of their districts sometimes have as few as 200 students. The Florida legislature does not grant the ri ght to a free public education to anyone in Florida; it offers the opportunity to its residents, an opportunity that can be denied if the residents are determined to be a threat to others. Florida school dist ricts have a diverse student body demographic, with six urban districts and ove r 30% of the students of ethnic background other than that of Caucasian descent (Florida Depa rtment of Education, 2006). Combining both rural and urban cultures with those of ethnically diverse cultures, in school district s that span the entire width of the counties, creates school districts in Florida that are generally unique by nature. Florida follows the federal mandate of zer o tolerance school discipline policies. The Advancement Project (2006), in cooperation with the NAACP, selected Florida as the one state

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61 to highlight when addressing the injustices that children face as a result of strict zero tolerance policies. The Advancement Project study highlighted the rise of overly broad zero tolerance school discipline policies at both th e state and local level (p. 7) as well as the increasing costs that Florida taxpayers incur because school district s are paying sheriff deputies to ensure safety in their schools instead of relying on trained, ed ucational leaders and pr ofessionals who already work in the schools. Even though the Advancem ent Project thoroughly examined Floridas six largest school district s and their handling of discipline pr ocedures, there has yet to be a comprehensive study comparing all 67 Florida sc hool districts and how they implement zero tolerance policies. This study is th e first of its kind to utilize the information from all 67 Student Codes of Conduct from Floridas pu blic county school districts. Procedures The procedures utilized in this research were adapted from Neuendorf (2002) as they applied to this particular policy analysis. Her gui de in analyzing the cont ent of policies included the following steps and will be defined as they apply to the analysis of Student Codes of Conduct: (a) theory and rationale (b) conceptualizations, (c) operationalizations, (d) coding schemes, (e) sampling, (f) coding, and (g) ta bulation and reporting (Neuendorf, 2002, p. 51). Theory and Rationale Defining what is going to be examined in th e analysis and why it was chosen is necessary when explaining the theory and rationale behind a policy analysis (Neuendorf, 2002). Traditionally the discipline policies of school di stricts are defined in booklets or handbooks that are distributed to the students at the beginning of every school year. These booklets have various names, such as Student Conduc t and Discipline Code, Stude nt Code of Conduct, and Code of Student Conduct. For the purpose of this policy an alysis, all of these polic ies will be referred to as Student Codes of Conduct. The Stude nt Codes of Conduct fr om all 67 public school

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62 districts in the State of Florida were chosen because Florida has so me of the most stringent zero tolerance policies in the na tion (Advancement Project, 2006). These codes outlined the procedures that principals and educational lead ers must follow when deciding how to discipline students. The theory and rationale behind dividing the 67 school districts in Flor ida into two groups based on student population was to discover if any similarities and differences existed between the types of zero tolerance polic ies a district has and the numbe r of students that attend the schools in that district. Studies and surveys published by the Na tional Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) have concluded that larger school districts report a higher percentage of violent crimes committed in schools than smaller districts. No similar studies have reported similarities and differences betw een the types of discipline polic ies a school district has in relation to the number of student s in that district (U.S. Depa rtment of Education, 2006). The Crime and Safety Surveys, a National Center for Educational Statistics st udy, provides data that indicate students are more likely to be victims of violent crimes as the nu mber of students in the school district increases (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). In the present study, similarities and differences were made to compare the variab les included in the Stud ent Codes of Conduct in Floridas large and small school districts. Sim ilarities and differences between the two groups were also compared to see if there were any trends found within and between the two categories. The Crime and Safety Surveys database is one of many databases maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics. This annual survey collects information and publishes reports in the areas of school crime, violence, safety, and di scipline (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Additional data to support the similarities and differences between higher violent crime percentage s and larger school districts is provided by the Bureau of Justice

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63 Statistics, a program sponsored by the U.S. Depa rtment of Justice. The Bureau of Justice Statistics annua l report titled Indicators of School Crime and Safety collects data on crime and safety at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population as well as data on crime occurr ing on the way to and from school (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005, 2). As in other repor ts, the data in this re port reinforce the idea that violence in schools increases as the districts student body size increases. Conceptualizations The prevailing concept in this research wa s to analyze the manner by which the school districts in the State of Florid a chose to implement the zero tolerance mandates required by the Gun Free Schools Act of 1994. The variables studie d emerged from the literature review and were based on the fact that the zero tolerance sc hool discipline policies vary from district to district. Florida school district s are required by Florida State la w to only include guns in their zero tolerance policies. Choosing to include knives, drugs, and bullying in a zero tolerance policy is solely the decision of the school district, as is the decision to pay for alternative educational settings where children who are expelled or suspended over 10 days may attend (Florida Department of Education, 2006). Conceptually, the decision to distinguish betw een Floridas large and small school districts in this policy analysis derives from the natio nal research on urban school districts. Research indicates that districts wi th larger student populations have a la rger percentage of zero tolerance violations than districts with smaller populations. Approximately 77% of the schools located in large districts report incidences that violate zero tole rance policies versus 70% of schools located in small districts (U.S. Department of Educa tion, 2000). This study examines the ways in which districts chose to implement zero tolerance policie s with the size of the student population of the school districts as the di viding factor between the two groups being compared.

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64 Operationalizations The unit of data collection, or measures, mu st match the conceptualization (Neuendorf, 2002).The units of study in this research derived from the review of literature and national data sets, both of which highlighted the most frequen tly included aspects of zero tolerance policies such as guns, knives, bullying, and drugs (Skiba, et al., 2006). In addition, because some districts chose to fund alternative educati onal settings for their expelled students, such decisions to operate an alternative educatio nal setting became another un it of study by this researcher. Coding Schemes Once the variables for the policy analysis were determined, a codebook (Appendix A) was developed to coincide with the codes used on the coding form (Appendix B). A coding scheme was developed in order to record the specific information gathered and to place a corresponding value next to each variable found in the district s Student Code of Conduct. In addition, each school district was assigned a number so that the districts names could remain confidential, with the names of the school districts reco rded in a separate, private codebook. Sampling A nonrandom sampling process was utilized in this research. Processes for sampling the data for this policy analysis included: The Florida Department of Educations Safe and Healthy Schools Office was contacted in an attempt to acquire copies of all 67 distri ct Student Codes of Conduct. In speaking with the director, it was discovered that she does not keep copies of discipline codes on file and that, if needed, she could contact the school di strict if she had any questions regarding a weapons policy. The Florida School Board Association was then contacted in an attempt to acquire copies of all 67 district Student Code s of Conduct. In speaking with their representative, it was discovered that she also does not keep copies of discipline code s on file and that, if needed, she could contact the school di strict if she had any questi ons regarding any school board policies.

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65 An Internet search of the Florida Department of Educations website led to a page that contained links to all 67 Florida school distri cts. In viewing the first 10 websites, it was discovered that most school dist ricts did not post Student Code of Conduct on the Internet. Permission was granted by the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (UFIRB) to contact the school districts and request use of public documents, in this case, access to the Student Codes of Conduct (Appendix C). All of the districts, even t hose that had their Student Code s of Conduct available online, were sent letters through U.S. Mail requesting assistance in this study by sending copies of the Student Code of Conduct to th e enclosed address (Appendix D). School districts that did not respond to the initial request after a fourweek period were sent a second request th rough U.S. Mail (Appendix E). Districts that still did not respond we re contacted by telephone and email. Coding The process of obtaining the Student Codes of Conduct c oncluded once all 67 Student Codes of Conduct were obtained by th e researcher. At that point, th e final data analysis occurred and coding proceeded as outlined: Each districts Student Code of Conduct wa s assigned a number that coincided with the confidential number assigned to each of the 67 Florida school districts. Districts Student Codes of Conduct that were provided as PDF files or attachments were printed, bound, and also labeled so that hardcopies were availa ble on which the researcher could write notes and highlight coded words. Each Student Code of Conduct was read by the researcher. Variables relating to the six research questions were code d onto the corresponding area on the coding form. The total number of variables required on the co ding form was eight: (a) the school districts assigned number; (b) the districts student population; (c) whether th e districts Student Code of Conduct included a definition of the term zero tolerance whether the Student Code of Conduct included zero tolerance policies against (d) guns, (e) knives, (f) drugs, (g) bullying, and (h) whether the Student Code of Conduct indicated if the district had an alternative educational setting for those students who have been suspended or expelled.

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66 The coding process required the researcher to decide which words or statements were appropriate and consistently recorded on the co ding form. Even though the following issues were resolved in the coding process, they s till emerged through the research process: When Student Codes of Conduct included discip line policies for knives, bullying, or drugs that did not result in a mandatory suspensi on or expulsion, those dist ricts were not coded as having zero tolerance for those offenses. In order for the policy to be considered a zero tolerance policy, it must have de fined the policy as one that had a mandatory or automatic punishment. A few Student Codes of Conduct did not use the actual term zero tolerance when referring to mandatory punishments, yet it was clear the policies and punishments reflected the essence of zero tolerance policies. In those cases where the term zero tolerance was not actually used, they were counted as having zero tolerance polic ies if the Student Codes of Conduct included mandatory punishments fo r guns, knives, drugs, or bullying. The researcher believed the integrity of the study was not marginalized because those districts were fulfilling, in their own vernacular, the zero tolerance requirements mandated by the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. Discipline policies that were specifically written for stude nts who are protected under the law mandated by the Individuals with Disabiliti es Education Act were not included in the coding process or on the coding form. Only t hose policies that referred to general or regular education students were coded. Only those districts whose alternative educat ional settings were de signed for students who were suspended or expelled from their regula r educational settings were included in the coding form. Publicly funded magnet or charte r schools, although sometimes used as an option for students who are suspended or expell ed from their regular educational settings, were not counted as alternativ e educational settings because they also enroll students that did not violate zero tolerance policies. Although most districts had a single Student Code of C onduct for grades K, some districts had separate Student Codes of Conduct for grades K grade, 6 grades, and 7 grades. If a district had more than one St udent Code of Conduct, the researcher used only the Student Codes of Conduct that applie d to the secondary schools in the district. This decision enabled the resear cher to be consistent throughout the coding process. It also prevented some districts from having their elementary Student C ode of Conduct coded while having other districts 9 grade Student Code of Conduct coded on another form. Some districts provided quite detailed and lengthy Student Codes of Conduct (up to 68 pages), providing a vast amount of information regarding how discipline policies related to specific offenses, while others were short and concise (as few as 6 pages). In the Student Codes of Conduct that were excessively long, only the chapters th at outlined discipline were thoroughly evaluated.

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67 All of the coding issues were addressed in a cons istent manner so that they did not corrupt the final data analysis. Tabulation and Reporting The tabulation and reporting of results involved counting the variables th at were present in each districts Student Code of Conduct. The decision to tabulate was based on whether the variable appeared in relation to a zero tolerance discipline polic y. For example, if there was a drug policy outlined in the Student Code of Con duct, but it did not result in the automatic suspension or expulsion of the student involved, it was not counted as a variable in this study. In addition, if an alternative education setting was availabl e to suspended or expelled students in the district, even if it was attached to or part of a juvenile detention center, it was counted as a variable as long as nondisciplined students were not attending the facility. The alternative education setting was not counted if it was a regularly zoned school, such as a trade, tech, or special magnet school. On ce the codings were completed, th e data were entered into a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet and analyzed. Summary This chapter provided an overview of the method used in this study as well as an overview of the study itself and the theory, rationale, and pur poses of policy analysis as they contribute to society and lawmakers. The theoretical framewor k of the study was provided and a description of the procedures, data sources, and coding pr ocess. In addition, the tabulation and reporting process was described in detail as a pref ace to the reporting of data in Chapter 4.

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68 CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH FINDINGS The purpose of the study was to determine di fferences in the Student Codes of Conduct developed by Floridas public school districts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the implementation of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. The 67 public school districts in Florida were categorized into two groups according to the mathematical divide of their student populations: (a) 33 districts with a student body population of 15,000 or more were placed in the first group, defined as large school districts, (b) 34 districts with a student body population under 15,000 students were placed in the second group, defined as small districts. Six indicators were used to determine thes e policy differences: (a) whether the Student Codes of Conduct included a definition of the term zero tolerance (b) whether the Student Codes of Conduct included a zero tolerance policy against guns, (c ) against knives, (d) against drugs, (e) against bullying, and (f) if there was an option of attending an alternative education setting for students who violated a zero tolerance policy. The data collected were compared through the use of the two categories, with the totals and percentages of the large districts compared to the totals and percentage s of the small districts on all six indicators. This chapter provides a profile of the individua l data sources used in this study, including the method and rates of retrieval, as well as th e results of the policy an alysis. Details of the complete profile of Florida school districts ar e provided, followed by a description of the coding process used to gather information on each of th e categories as they related to the corresponding indicator. This chapter also includes a summary of the patterns that were evident in the data processing, and concludes with a brie f summary of the data collected.

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69 Profile of Data Sources The data for this study was provided by the 67 pu blic school districts in Florida. Florida was chosen as the state of interest because of the national publicity and criticism it has received regarding the ways its districts have chosen to implement zero tolerance policies as mandated by the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. The information was gathered using each districts Student Code of Conduct, a document that is published each year by the indivi dual districts and is accessible to the public upon request. The proces s of requesting the Student Codes of Conduct from various public entities as well as each district was outlined in Chapter 3. Method and Rates of Retrieval The researcher sought to obtai n the actual booklet or hardcopy of each districts Student Code of Conduct from the distri cts Office of Student Services, rather than simply reading the document online, for two specific re asons. First, the researcher disc overed that the integrity of the document was sometimes compromised by the di strict, inadvertently or purposefully, when the Student Code of Conduct was webbased be cause the webbased document did not always include the same amount of information found in th e hardcopy that the dist rict sent home with each student at the beginning of the year. Fo r example, some Student Codes of Conduct contained letters from the superi ntendents that highlighted new ch anges to the Student Codes of Conduct, letters that were not available for the general public to view on line. In addition, having a webbased Student Code of Conduct allowed th e district office the ability to change or manipulate the document anytime throughout the c ourse of the school year, whereas having the actual booklet that was sent home with the student s at the beginning of the year provided the researcher with the same policies that were enacted since the previous fall semester. The second reason the researcher sought to obtain the actual booklets that contained the Student Codes of Conduct was so th at the researcher could physica lly code the pertinent data of

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70 interest while reading them. This also allowed th e researcher the ability to handle the documents in the same manner that the students and parent s of the districts would handle the documents. This became a factor when the researcher was considering what a model policy should physically resemble, especially when severa l districts published th eir documents in fonts so small or with ink so faint that the researcher ha d difficultly reading them (Table 4). Of the 67 school districts in Florida, 36 res ponded to the first request for a copy of the districts Student Code of Conduct. This request was sent by U.S. Mail. Of the 31 that did not respond, 18 responded to the second request for a copy of the Student Code of Conduct, again sent by U.S. Mail. For the 13 dist ricts that had still not responded, the researcher contacted each district by telephone, asking to speak to the Dir ector of Student Servi ces or the Assistant Superintendent. Of those contacted by telephone, 11 fulfilled the researchers request. A fourth request was made with the two di stricts that had not yet provide d the Student Codes of Conduct. The request included both emails to the districts superintendents as well as phone calls to high school principals in the districts requesting so meone fulfill the researchers request for public documents. Eventually both districts fulfilled th e request, completing the collection of data for all 67 of Floridas schoo l districts (Table 4). Description of Categories by School District Size The Florida Department of Education website indicated that ther e were 2,572,963 students attending public schools in Flor idas 67 county school di stricts in 2006 (Florida Department of Education, 2006). These 67 school districts were divided into two categories with the mean number of students being 15,000. The first categor y had 33 school districts each containing 15,000 students or more; the second category had 34 districts each containing fewer than 15,000 students.

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71 The first category had a total student population of 2,402,430, which accounted for 93.37% of Floridas public school popula tion. The second category had a total student population of 170,533, which accounted for the remaining 6.63% of students in Floridas public schools. Of the 33 large districts, seven had a student populat ion of over 100,000, with the largest district in Florida reporting a student popula tion of 359,420 in 2006. Of the 34 sma ll districts, five districts had student populations of less than 1,500, with the smallest di strict in Florida reporting a student population of 1,056 students in 2006 (Table 4). District Size and Inclusion of a Zero Tolerance Definition A definition of the term zero tolerance was found in the Student Codes of Conduct in 29 (43.28%) of the 67 school districts in Florida. The remaining 38 (56.72%) either did not mention the term zero tolerance in the Student Codes of Conduct or did not define the term if it was included. Of the 29 school districts th at included a definition of the term zero tolerance in the Student Codes of Conduct, 18 (54.54%) were categor ized as large districts and 11 (32.35%) were categorized as small districts. Of Floridas 33 large districts, 15 (45.46%) either did not include the term zero tolerance or did not define the term if it was included. Of Floridas 34 small districts, 23 (32.35%) either did not include the term zero tolerance or did not define the term if it was included (Table 4). District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Guns Sixtytwo (62) of the 67 school districts in Fl orida included a zero to lerance policy against guns in their Student Codes of Conduct. This equa tes to 92.53% of all school districts in Florida having a mandatory suspension or expulsion for students who bring a gun to school or to a school function. The remaining 7.46% either did not have a specific policy against the possession of guns or did not define the policy as one that has a mandatory punishment (Table 4).

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72 Of the 62 school districts that included a zero tolera nce policy against guns in their Student Codes of Conduct, 33 were large districts and 29 we re small districts. All 33 of the large districts had a specific zero tole rance policy against the possession of guns in school or at a school function. Of Floridas 34 small districts, 29 (85.2 9%) had a zero tolerance against guns policy in their Student Codes of Conduct while five ( 14.71%) either did not in clude a zero tolerance against guns policy or did not sp ecify that there was a mandat ory punishment for bringing a gun to school or to a school function. District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Knives Fortyfive (45) of the 67 school districts in Fl orida included a zero to lerance policy against knives in their Student Codes of Conduct. Thus, 67.16% of all schoo l districts in Florida have a mandatory suspension or expulsion for students w ho bring a knife to sc hool or to a school function. The remaining 32.84% either did not have a spec ific policy in thei r Student Codes of Conduct against the possession of knives in school or did not define the policy as one that has a mandatory punishment. Of the 45 school districts that included a zero tolerance po licy against knives, 29 were large districts and 16 were small districts. Within Floridas 33 large districts, 29 (87.87%) included a zero tolerance agai nst knives policy while four (1 2.13%) did not include a zero tolerance against knives policy in their Student Codes of Conduct or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bringing a knife to school or to a school function. Of Floridas 34 total small districts, 16 (47.06%) included a zer o tolerance for knives policy in their Student Codes of Conduct. The other 18 (52.94%) either did not include a zero tolerance against knives policy or did not specify that there was a mandato ry punishment for bringing a knife to school or to a school function (Table 4).

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73 District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance for Drugs Fiftyfour (54) of the 67 school districts in Florida (80.59%) included a zero tolerance policy against drugs in their Stud ent Codes of Conduct that results in a mandatory suspension or expulsion. The remaining 19.41% of districts either did not have a specific policy in their Student Codes of Conduct against the possession of drugs in school or did not define the policy as one that has a mandatory punishment. Of the 54 school districts that included a zero tolerance policy against drugs, 29 were large and 25 were small. Of Floridas 33 large districts, 29 included a zero tolerance against drugs policy (87.87%). The four other large districts (12.13%) either did not include a zero tolerance against drugs policy in their Stude nt Codes of Conduct or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bringing drugs to school or to a school function. Of Floridas 34 total small districts, 25 included a zero tolerance against drugs policy in their Student Codes of Conduct (73.52%). The four other small districts (26.47%) either did not include a zero tolerance for drugs policy or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bringing drugs to school or to a school function (Table 4). District Size and Inclusion of Zero Tolerance against Bullying and Harassment Fourteen (14) of the 67 school districts in Florida (20.89%) included a zero tolerance policy against bullying or harassing other student s in school or at a sc hool function in their Student Codes of Conduct. The remaining 53 (79.11 %) either did not have a specific policy in their Student Codes of Conduct ag ainst bullying or did not define the policy as one that has a mandatory punishment. Of the 14 school districts that included a zero to lerance policy against bullying, nine were large districts and five were small districts. Of Floridas 33 large districts, nine districts (27.27%) included a zero tolerance against bully ing policy while the other 24 (72.73%) either did not include a zero tolerance po licy against bullying in their Student Codes of Conduct or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment against bullying in school or

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74 at a school function. Of Floridas 34 small distri cts, five (14.7%) include d a zero tolerance policy against bullying in their Student Codes of Conduc t. The other 29 small districts (85.3%) either did not include a zero tolerance policy against bullying or did not specify that there was a mandatory punishment for bullying in school or at a school function (Table 4). District Size and Options for an Alternative Education Setting Fortyeight (48) of the 67 school districts in Florida ( 71.64%) included in their Student Codes of Conduct an option for an alternative education setting for students who were suspended or expelled as a result of viola ting a zero tolerance policy while in school or at a school function. Of these 48 school districts, 32 we re large districts and 16 were sm all districts. Thirtytwo (32) of the total 33 large districts (96.96%) included in their Student Codes of Conduct an option that students attend an alternative edu cation setting if they violate a zero tolerance policy while in school or at a school function. Si xteen (16) of the 34 total sma ll districts (47.05%) included an option for students to attend an alte rnative education setting. More th an half of the small districts (52.95%) did not include an option for students to a ttend an alternat ive education setting if they violated a zero tolerance policy while in school or at a school function. Of the 67 school districts in Florida, 19 school districts (20.89%) did not indicate in their Studen t Codes of Conduct that there was an option for students to attend an alternative education setting if they violated a zero tolerance policy (Table 4) Results of Coding by Categories Categories of district size were devised dividing the total student populations of the 67 Florida public school districts by two. This resulted in one group representing 33 districts with student body populations of 15,000 or more, and a second group of 34 di stricts representing student body populations under 15,000 st udents. Using these two sized categories, school district Student Codes of Conduct were co llected and analyzed using six i ndicators. Indicators are coded

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75 words or phrases that the researcher sought wh ile analyzing the simila rities and differences among the 67 school districts. These six indicators were: (a) zero tolerance is defined and the Student Codes of Conduct includes (b) a zero tolerance policy agai nst guns, (c) a zero tolerance policy against knives, (d) a zero tolerance pol icy against drugs, (e) a zero tolerance policy against bullying, and whether students who violated a zero tolerance policy are provide an (f) option of attending an alternative education setting. The data analys is is reported by district size, frequency, and percentages of schools reporti ng each of the six indicators (Table 4). Large Florida districts were found to have mo re indicators present than did the 34 small districts. The most obvious diffe rence between large and small di stricts was the number of large districts that offered an option for an alte rnative education setting for students who were suspended or expelled for viola ting a zero tolerance polic y listed in their districts Student Code of Conduct. Of the 33 large districts, 96% (32) ha d provisions for an altern ative education setting versus 47% (16) of the small districts. The indicator that represented the greatest similarity between large districts and small districts dealt with inclusion of a zero tolerance against guns po licy in their Student Codes of Conduct. All 33 of the large districts (100%) indicated that they had policies mandating a suspension or expulsion for stude nts who brought a gun to school. Of the 34 small districts, 85% (29) indicated they had such a policy. Results of Coding by Indicators Once the two district size categories were es tablished, analysis of the Student Codes of Conduct using the six coded indica tors was conducted. Of the 67 Florida school districts, six districts (8.95%) were found to have two Student Code s of Conduct, one for elementary schools and a second one for junior high, middle, and high schools. One additional district (1.49%) had three separate Student Codes of Conduct, one for Kth grades, a second one for 6thth grades,

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76 and a third one for 9thth grades. In cases where there was more than one Student Code of Conduct in a district, the resear cher used only the one that ap plied to the secondary school setting. This decision allowed for consiste ncy in defining the fo llowing indicators. Inclusion of a Definition for the Term Zero Tolerance The first indicator in this policy analysis en tailed the researcher coding words or phrases that represented a definition of zero toleran ce. The Student Codes of Conduct presented the researcher with a variety of ways to ascertain that the district enfo rced policies that had mandatory punishments. Some district s (43.28%) specifically used the term zero tolerance in defining that certain infractions of the Student Code of Conduct would result in suspension or expulsion (Table 4). Other distri cts (49.25%) never used the term zero tolerance but through an analysis of the Student Codes of Conduct, the researcher discovered that the districts fulfilled the mandate by the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 by requiring mandatory punishments for certain offenses. In both cases, the district s were coded as having defined the term zero tolerance In the Student Codes of C onduct that used the term zero tolerance but never defined for the researcher that the policy associated with the infraction included a mandatory suspension or expulsion, the district was coded as not having defined the term. In establishing this standard, the researcher excluded some districts that, for example, had the term Zero Tolerance Policies in their table of contents, yet when the research er investigated the policy, discovered that the consequence for violating the Student Code of Conduct did not require a suspension or expulsion. In those cases, the infr action usually involved a continuum of consequences, two of which may have been suspension or recommendati on for expulsion, but if the Student Codes of Conduct did not specifically defi ne the zero tolerance policy as having a mandatory punishment, then it was not counted for this study.

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77 Guns The GunFree Schools Act of 1994 mandated that each school district receiving public funds for education have a policy included in their Student Code of Conduct requiring the expulsion of students who bring weapons to scho ol or to a school func tion. According to the federal law, the word weapon includes guns, bombs, grenades, rockets, and missiles (Pipho, 1998, p. 725). Each Student Code of Conduct that included the word weapon also included the word gun in its description of what constitutes a zero tolerance offense. The word firearm was also used in place of weapon when describing banned objects from schools. Districts that specifically stat ed there was a zero tolerance policy for guns in their Student Codes of Conduct, but did not mandate a su spension or expulsion for bringing them onto campus, were listed as not having a zero toleran ce policy for guns. All 67 districts in Florida included a policy on guns, but five districts, all of which were sm all, included the possession of a gun as an offense that may result in suspension or expulsion. The fact that those five districts did not list the possession of guns as an offense that includes a mandatory suspension or expulsion resulted in those districts not being coded by the researcher as having a zero tolerance policy against guns. Knives The word knife is not mentioned in the GunFree Schools Act of 1994, but the Act does allow states and individual schoo l districts to expand their use of zero tolerance policies so that their Student Codes of Conduct may include them among a list of weapons that are subject to mandatory punishments. The researcher coded dist ricts as having zero tole rance policies against knives if the districts listed the possession of a knife as an offense that resulted in a suspension or expulsion, regardless of the fact that some districts had minimu m requirements for the length of the knives in order for them to qualify for the mandated punishment. This decision by the

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78 researcher was made to provide cons istency in studying the indicator of knives and the question as to whether there were differences in large dist ricts and small districts as to their decision to include knives as a weapon that results in a ma ndatory punishment. The researcher decided that, if the districts Student Code of C onduct included a mandatory punishment for any sized knife (whether it was under 3 inches or not), then the district did, in fact, have a zero tolerance policy against knives. The district was coded to reflec t the policy on zero tolerance against knives. Drugs Coding whether districts included drugs in the Student Codes of Conduct did not entail the researcher establishing specific crit eria to account for factors such as quantities of drugs or types of drugs because districts simply used the allencompassing term drugs to include any drug of any quantity. The researcher did, however, make a distinction between policies regarding drugs and those regarding alcohol. Some districts speci fically listed alcohol as a drug in the zero tolerance against drugs policies, wh ile others listed alcohol under a separate policy. Districts that listed alcohol as a separate drug, with separate conseque nces, were still coded as having a zero tolerance policy against drugs if the Student Codes of C onduct mandated a suspension or expulsion for the possession of drugs (even if the possession of alcohol did not mandate such punishments). Therefore, there was no distinction made in the coding process for those districts that had zero tolerance against drugs but not alcohol, as compared to those districts that had zero tolerance policies for drugs that included alcohol. Bullying The word harassment and the term bullying were used interchangeably by most school districts in their Student Codes of Conduct. Both words were code d in this study as a form of intimidation of one person by anot her person, as long as the word harassment did not refer to sexual harassment policies. Sexual harassment polic ies were not specifically coded for this study.

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79 The researcher did observe, though, that districts sometimes included sexual harassment policies in their Student Codes of Conduct even if they did not include bullying policies. It was also noted that districts often relied on conseque nces such as a conference with the guidance counselor or a conference with the students and parents of all those i nvolved in the bullying incident instead of mandatory punishmen ts such as suspensions or expulsions. Options for an Alternative Educational Setting The process of coding whether districts include d an option for an alternative educational setting for students who violated zero tolerance policies as outlined in their districts Student Codes of Conduct was a difficult task due to the differences in describing and listing the alternative settings. Some districts had specific sections in the Student Codes of Conduct that outlined the process and qualifications for enroll ment into the alternative education settings, describing the programs offered at the alterna tive education settings and its location. Other districts never provided a description of the alternative education settings, but listed an alternative education setting as an option for students who violated the zero tolerance policies. The option for students to choose an alternat ive education setting was commonly described as an option in lieu of expulsion. Most Student Codes of Conduc t, in those districts that included this as an option, would list th e consequence of violating the ze ro tolerance policy as suspension or expulsion. Attending the altern ative education setti ng was never a punishment in of itself for any district in Florida, but application to an alternative education sett ing often accompanied an expulsion hearing. Summary of Patterns Six patterns emerged from the data gathering and coding process when determining if there were differences in the Student Codes of Conduc t developed by large and small school districts

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80 in response to zero tolerance pol icies related to the implementa tion of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994: 1. The student body populations of th e districts signified that th e overwhelming majority of students in Florida (95%) attended schools in districts larger than 15,000 students in 2006. 2. The Student Codes of Conduct fr om larger districts included a larger percentage of indicators than those of smaller districts. 3. Specifically, including a definition of the term zero tolerance was more common in larger districts Student Codes of Conduct (55%) than it was in smaller dist ricts Student Codes of Conduct (32%). 4. Not every Student Code of Conduct had a policy mandating expulsion for guns, even though the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 mandat ed having this policy contingent on receiving federal funds. Each of the 33 large districts mandated suspension or expulsion for the possession of a gun, but only 29 of th e 34 small districts mandated it. Smaller districts were more inclined to include suspension and expulsion on a continuum of possible disciplinary measures. The five di stricts that did not mandate it allowed for lesser punishments to be administered. 5. In this study, harassment and bullying were the least coded indicators of zero tolerance policies in Florida school districts. 6. All but 1 of the 33 large districts provided an option of an alternat ive education setting, while only 16 of the 34 small districts offe red an option of an alternative education setting.

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81 Table 4. Results by method fo r Florida school districts Method of Retrieval N=(67) % Retrieved via the internet 24 36.11% Retrieved by hardcopy or booklet 43 63.89% Total number of Student Codes of Conduct received 67 100.00% ______________________________________________________________________________

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82 Table 4. Results by rate of retr ieval for Florida school districts Rate of Retrieval N=(67) % Retrieved upon the first request (researc her used U.S. Mail) 36 53.73% Retrieved upon the second re quest (researcher used U.S. Mail) 18 26.86% Retrieved upon the third reque st (researcher used the te lephone) 11 16.41% Retrieved upon the fourth request (researcher used the telephone and sent emails) 2 3.00% Total number of Student Codes of Conduct received 67 100.00%

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83 Table 4. Division of di stricts into categories by student body population Category Number of District s Total Student Population and % First (Large Districts) 33 2,402,430 (93.37%) 15,000 students and over Second (Small Districts) 34 170,533 (6.63%) Under 15,000 students Total Number: 67 2,572,963 (100.00%) ______________________________________________________________________________

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84 Table 4. Results by district size and in clusion of a zero tolerance definition Category Number of Districts That Included % of Districts That Included a Zero Tolerance Definition a Zero Tolerance Definition Public School Districts 29 43.28% In Florida (N=67) ______________________________________________________________________________ Large Districts with Enrollments of 18 54.54% 15,000 or more students (n=33) Small Districts with Enrollments of 11 32.35% Under 15,000 students (n=34)

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85 Table 4. Results by district si ze and zero tolerance for guns Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a Zero Tolerance for Guns Policy Zero Tolerance for Guns Public School Districts 62 92.53% In Florida (N=67) ______________________________________________________________________________ Large Districts with Enrollments of 33 100.00% 15,000 or more students (n=33) Small Districts with Enrollments of 29 85.29% Under 15,000 students (n=34)

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86 Table 4. Results by district si ze and zero tolerance for knives Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a Zero Tolerance for Knives Zero Tolerance for Knives Public School Districts 45 67.16% In Florida (N=67) ______________________________________________________________________________ Large Districts with Enrollments of 29 87.87% 15,000 or more students (n=33) Small Districts with Enrollments of 16 47.06% Under 15,000 students (n=34)

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87 Table 4. Results by district si ze and zero tolerance for drugs Category Number of Districts with a % of Districts with a Zero Tolerance for Drugs Zero Tolerance for Drugs Public School Districts 54 80.59% In Florida (N=67) ______________________________________________________________________________ Large Districts with Enrollments of 29 87.87% 15,000 or more students (n=33) Small Districts with Enrollments of 25 73.52% Under 15,000 students (n=34)

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88 Table 4. Results by district size and zero tolerance for bullying Category Number of Districts w ith a % of Districts with a Zero Tolerance for Bullying Zero Tolerance for Bullying Public School Districts 14 20.89% In Florida (N=67) ______________________________________________________________________________ Large Districts with Enrollments of 9 27.27% 15,000 or more students (n=33) Small Districts with Enrollments of 5 14.70% Under 15,000 students (n=34)

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89 Table 4. Results by distri ct size and an alternative education setting Category Number of Districts w ith an % of Districts with an Alternative E ducation Setting Alternative Education Setting Public School Districts 48 71.64% In Florida (N=67) Large Districts with Enrollments of 32 96.96% 15,000 or more students (n=33) Small Districts with Enrollments of 16 47.05% Under 15,000 students (n=34)

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90 Table 4. Comparison of cat egories to indicators Indicators Florida Large Small Florida Large Small Total Total Total % % % Definition of Zero Tolerance 29 18 11 43.28 54.5532.35 Zero Tolerance against Guns 62 33 29 92.54 100.0085.29 Zero Tolerance against Knives 45 29 16 67.16 87.8847.06 Zero Tolerance against Drugs 54 29 25 80.60 87.8873.53 Zero Tolerance against Bullying 14 9 5 20.90 27.2714.71 Option for an Alternative Setting 48 32 16 71.64 96.9747.06 _______________________________________________________________________________ District Student Population 2,572,9632,402,430170,533100.00 93.37 6.63 Total # of Districts: 33 34 33 34

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91 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS The purpose of the study was to determine the differences in the St udent Codes of Conduct developed by Floridas large and small school di stricts in response to zero tolerance policies related to the implementati on of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. The GunFree Schools Act of 1994 provided districts with the opportunity to expand the usage of mandatory punishments for virtually any misbehavior districts deemed un wanted. This policy analysis demonstrated that giving districts the ability to expand the usage of zero toleran ce policies has resulted in the preponderance of districts includi ng infractions that do not relate to the original intent of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. This proved true more often in Floridas larger districts, those with over 15,000 students, than it did with Floridas smaller districts. The findings reported in this chapter can be used for futu re study on the inclusion and implementation of zero tolerance policies in publ ic school districts. Elements for a model Student Code of Conduct, based on the literature review provided in Chapter 2 and the data gathered and reported in Chapter 4, were developed to provide sc hool districts in Florida with ways in which they can continue to operate w ithin the parameters of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 but also implement safeguards so that nonviolent children ar e not suspended or expelled as a result of overzea lous or allencompassing zero to lerance policies. In addition, the findings of this policy analysis contribute to the knowledge base of zero tolerance research, providing a foundation and platform for future re searchers to question the practices of school districts and their decisions to include or excl ude certain elements in their Student Codes of Conduct.

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92 Discussion of the Findings The findings of this study were based on an an alysis of policies found in Floridas public school district Student Codes of Conduct. Utilizing Florid as entire collection of 2005 Student Codes of Conduct allowed the research er to establish a foundation on which findings could be reported as complete and current. The literature re view and theoretical framework outlined in Chapter 2 provided the foundation for this policy analysis. Using the data gathered by this research as a basis for disc ussion, four major findings were summarized and analyzed within the parameters of this study: (a) Student Codes of Conduct from large school districts in Florida are more vigilant at defining the term zero tolerance than those found in small districts, (b) Floridas large school districts Student Code s of Conduct are more often in compliance with the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 than small school districts, (c) sma ll school districts in Florida are less likely than large districts to ex pand the use of zero tole rance policies in their Student Codes of Conduct, (d) larg e school districts in Florida ar e more likely to provide an option in their Student Codes of Conduct that allows for stude nts to attend an alternative education setting. Defining Zero Tolerance The literature review in Chapter 2 outlined the importance of providing definitions of words so that the consumers, or readers, unde rstand the overall cons tructs that support the usage of the words (Friedgan, 2003, 12). Wit hout understanding the constructs, words and phrases have little or no meaning, resulting in confusion among the readers. The researcher sought to answer whether there was a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of Floridas small and large public school di stricts that include a defi nition of what the term zero tolerance means as it relates to discipline. When analy zed, the data collected in this study indicate

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93 differences between Floridas large and small districts: more than ha lf (55%) of the large districts included such a definition; only onethird (32%) of the small districts included a definition. Applying the philosophy that appropriate defini tions to words and phrases help eliminate confusion in the meaning of the policy by consum ers, districts that fail to define the term zero tolerance in the Student Codes of Conduc t essentially fail to create the deterrence factor that these policies are supposed to in still in students. If the mandato ry punishments associated with zero tolerance policies are intended to scare stud ents into not disobeyi ng the Student Codes of Conduct, then they need to know exactly what breaking a zero tolerance policy means for them. This education occurs by providing appropriate definitions in districts Student Codes of Conduct so that the codes can be used as an educational tool by the teachers, parents, and educational leaders that work with students. The lack of a definition of the term zero tolerance in Student Codes of Conduct is not cause for an increase in students misbehavio r. However, a common understanding for the term zero tolerance should be clearly defined by each district so that parents and students understand the consequences of their actions. In addition, only 1 of 3 students attending school in small districts in Florida has a Student Code of Conduct that includes de finitions of the schools zero tolerance policies. This is compared to 1 of every 2 students in Flor idas large districts. Considering that the consequences of viola ting a zero tolerance policy results in either suspension or expulsion, neither ratio is very impressive. The findings suggest that Floridas school districts, both large and small, inadequately define zero tolerance. Compliance with the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994 The federal GunFree Schools Act of 1994 mand ated that students who brought guns to school or to a school function be expelled for no less than 35 6 days. The second research question sought to answer whether there was a difference in the Student Codes of Conduct of

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94 Floridas small and large district s that include guns in their zero tolerance policies. It was anticipated that all 67 schools in Florida, at the risk of losing federal funds for non-compliance, would include policies in the Student Codes of Conduct that articulated this mandate. Instead it was discovered through this study that, while 100% of large districts comp lied with the law, only 85% of small districts in Fl orida were in compliance. There are multiple ways to interpret the fi ndings from the second research question. The first would be to assume that Floridas larg e school districts are better at defining the consequences of bringing a gun to school because the Student Codes of Conduct outline mandatory punishments. This would place officials in large districts in the position to claim that they are more serious about school safety than o fficials in small district s because their policies outline that no guns will be tolerated, reinforcing the tough-on-crime mentality that was one of the underlying deterrent philosophies of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. A second possible way to interpret the findings associated with the si x research questions would be to consider that larger districts have more funds availabl e to hire outside consultants to assist in the development of their Student Code s of Conducts than smaller districts. Large districts sometimes utilize the services of consulting firms that examine settled lawsuits and pending litigation, finding ways to shield districts from expensive lawsuits. The result is that many large districts find it economically sensible to include more indicators in their Student Codes of Conduct, and especially in their Zero To lerance policies, which results in longer, more inclusive Student Codes of Conduct. A third possible way to interpre t the findings associated with the second research question (as well as those of the third, fourth, and fifth re search questions that ad dressed the inclusion of knives, drugs, and bullying in zer o tolerance policies) would be to assume that small districts

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95 have reserved for themselves the option of looking at the intent of the violation, the circumstances surrounding the violation, and have a continuum of consequences other than expulsion. The fact that 5 of 67 school di stricts in Florida (7.47%) failed to mandate expulsion should not be interpreted as failure to implement policies that are consiste nt with having a safe school environment. What this res earch demonstrated was that the five small districts that did not mandate expulsion still had the option for expulsion, allowing edu cational administrators to make appropriate decisions on whether the offe nse deemed an expulsion. These districts may have wanted to steer away from the mentality that zero tolerance equals zero options, thus providing their building administra tors with more options when addressing guns, knives, drugs, and bullying. Although the researcher cannot conf irm such intent, these findings suggest that these five small districts in Florida have more opportunity to offer alternatives to expulsion than do the other 62 districts, regardless of size. Expanding Zero Tolerance Policies Just as the percentage of st udents attending schools in Florid as large districts (95%) is considerably more than small dist ricts (5%), so are the percentage s of what large districts chose to include as zero tolerance pol icies in their Student Codes of Conduct. This research study found that large school districts in Florida ha ve overlybroad definitions of zero tolerance policies compared to small school districts, includi ng many more things in th eir policies than just guns (i.e., knives, drugs, and bullying). The incl usion of guns in zero tolerance policies by both large and small school districts is understandable because federal tax dollars are attached to such policies; the reasons for a higher rate of including weapons other than guns in Student Codes of Conduct of large districts is less clear. The literature review in Chapter 2 outlined th e problems that knives, drugs, and bullying pose on schools and their safety, but the curren t research and literat ure does not provide

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96 significant evidence as to why Floridas large di stricts would want to mandate suspensions or expulsions of their students at a gr eater rate than small districts. One reason may be that larger school districts are commonly associated with larger cities and higher crime rates (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Measuring the tolerance level of e ducational leaders for violence and drugs in schools located in large sc hool districts is difficu lt to quantify, but given the increased awareness of violen ce and drugrelated crimes in la rge cities, it may be that the higher percentage of what is included in zero tolerance policies is a reflection of the communities lower tolerance fo r deviant behaviors in students. Although such a conclusion cannot be verified by this study, the data collected in this study veri fies that the preponderance of large districts included several infractions (i.e., knives, drugs, and bullying) in the Student Codes of Conduct that did not relate to the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. Providing the Option of an Alternative Education Setting The literature review and research presented in Chapter 2 (National Guard Camps, etc.) provide evidence that students who are expelled from their regular education setting can still find academic success if they are given the opportunity to attend an alternative education setting. Although a wide variety of alte rnative education programs are currently available across the country, students who attend schools in one of Floridas small district s have less than a 50% likelihood of attending such an alternative school because their districts do not offer it as an option. Conversely, 97% of Floridas large school district Student Code s of Conduct currently provide students who are suspe nded or expelled for violating a zero tolerance policy the option of attending an alterna tive education setting Conclusions The purpose of this study was to determine di fferences in the Student Codes of Conduct developed by Floridas large and small school di stricts in response to zero tolerance policies

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97 related to the implementati on of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. Through the literature review, data collection, and findi ngs reported in this policy anal ysis, the researcher developed four conclusions. Conclusion 1: Student Codes of Conduct Should Include a Defi nition of the Term Zero Tolerance The GunFree Schools Act of 1994 requires that every school district receiving federal education funds include a mandatory punishment or zero tolerance policy, for students who bring a gun to school or a school function. Agreement or disagreement with the law should not be the deciding factor whether the distri ct includes a definition of the term zero tolerance. A comprehensive definition of the term zero tolera nce should be included in a districts Student Code of Conduct in order to provide the members of their communities with the appropriate information to make educated decisions. Even though providing a definition does not en sure that everyone will read the Student Codes of Conduct and fully comprehend the ramificati ons of violating zero tolerance policies, it does create a framework by which educational leader s in each district can inform their students, parents, and community that some student be haviors will result in mandatory punishments. A definition for zero tolerance also allows the e ducational leaders and co mmunity to engage in discussion about the application of that definiti on. Without a definition, th is discussion could not occur. Conclusion 2: Limit What Consti tutes a Zero Tolerance Offense Parents must feel confident that their children are in a safe environment when they send them to school each day. This belief sometimes l eads parents to conclude that all children who perform deviant behaviors must be removed from sc hool in order to ensure the safety of the other students and improve the climate of the school. Ther e is little data to s upport the belief that

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98 removing deviant children actually improves the c limate of the school or that school becomes safer after deviant children are removed. Childre n are sent to school to learn. Sometimes the lessons learned come from classroom experiences; other times the lessons learned come from the mistakes they make and the compassionate educator s that guide them into making better choices. If zero tolerance policies are allowed to further proliferate into every element of the Student Codes of Conduct, it is likely that the number of students who violate zero to lerance policies sometime throughout the course of their K education will increa se, forcing more students out of their regular educational settings. Few people question the philosophy that truly violent students mu st be separated from the rest of the student body in order to protect th e wellbeing and safety of the entire student population. This same mentality (i.e ., separating violent individuals from the rest of society) is the impetus of the adult prison system. Even t hough some citizens would like to see more zero tolerance policies for crimes committed by adults, the justice system realizes that not every broken law justifies a mandatory prison sentence. Ju st as the adult prison system has limits and parameters on what crimes constitute a pris on sentence, so too should school districts demonstrate restraint as to whic h violations of their Student Codes of Conduct should result in a mandatory punishment. Zero tolerance policie s should balance modifying unwanted student behavior and separating students th at pose a real threat to scho ol safety from their regular education setting. Increasing the number of zero tolerance viol ations in Student Codes of Conduct decreases the ability of school administrators to use good judgment when deciding if the infraction was malicious, intentiona l, and a danger to school safety. Conclusion 3: Districts Should Fu nd Alternative Education Settings Disagreements arise among educational leaders, policy makers, and youth advocates when trying to decide what to do with children who have demonstrated truly violent tendencies.

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99 Suspension and expulsion are two common practices but when the students are suspended for long periods of time, or expelled from school, then the question surfaces of who should be responsible for them. The str uggle involves deciding whether children, some as young as 6 yearsold, should to be treated like prisoners and taken by youth resource officers to detention centers to be punished, or whether educational le aders and professional teachers should attempt to reform schoolage children so that they might lead productive and fulfilling lives. If the decision is to rely on educators, the question be comes where this can best be accomplished: in the regular education setting or in an alternative education setting. Every public school district in Florida should provide students with the option of attending an alternative educational setti ng within or outside the district. Such provision would eliminate the current disparity of less than 50% of student s who are expelled from small school districts in Florida having an opportunity to attend an alterna tive education setting co mpared to nearly 100% of students in large districts having this opportu nity. The manner by whic h districts structure alternative education settings does not have to be identical, but they should at least provide adequate academic instruction combined with behavior modification components that teach students how to learn from their mistakes. The al ternative education sett ings should be viewed in lieu of expulsion, providing students the education th ey need while also removing them from their regular educational setting until they have demonstrated they are no longer a threat to the safety of other students. Implications for Policy and Practice Revisit Current Student Codes of Conduct Educational leaders in Florid a should revisit and reevalu ate the zero tolerance policies currently defined in their districts Student Codes of Conduct. Do the infractions currently included as Zero Tolerance Offenses truly repr esent a serious breach of student conduct that

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100 threatens the safety of other in dividuals in the school? Prior to revisiting their Student Codes of Conduct, it is recommended that educational l eaders convene committees in their communities that can assist in defining the purpose and function of their Student Code of Conduct. The purpose of Student Codes of Conduct shoul d not be to make it is easier to push students out of their regular ed ucation setting. Rather the purpose should reflect an emphasis on educating as many students as possible in their regularly zoned public school while simultaneously maintaining high standards of safety and healthy learning environments. Educational leaders are encouraged to work with community members to create a Student Code of Conduct that reflects community values and work to create policies that are fair, yet sensible. Adopt a Model Student Code of Conduct By encouraging educational lead ers to work with community members to create a Student Code of Conduct that reflects their values but still retains fairness and sensibility, seven model elements are offered that every district should incorporate in their St udent Codes of Conduct. The model elements are based on a review of res earch literature, the data from the 67 Student Codes of Conduct found in Florida s public school districts, and in sights the researcher gained during analysis of Student Codes of Conduct fr om both small and large districts (Figure 5). The first element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a clear and concise definition of the term zero tolerance The definition should reflec t the philosophy that a zero tolerance offense is one where the student is guil ty of a very serious breach of conduct, an act that is evident that the students intent was to threaten the safety of those at school. Such a breach shall result in the removal of the student from his or her current education setting to an alternative education setti ng. Notice that the term removed is used instead of expelled. The second element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a system of safeguards that provide, prior to administering any consequence, individual consideration for all

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101 students by considering their maturity level, past infractions and an examination of the intent of their actions. The safeguard is modeled after th e manifestation hearings that students with disabilities are entitled to if th ey are accused of violating a ze ro tolerance policy. This assures that due process is followed in every occasion. The third element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a matrix of all possible discipline infractions (possession of guns, knives, or drugs, as well as bullying, stealing, fighting, sexual harassment, etc). The matrix s hould reflect Florida State Law that says no student shall be suspended for unexcused tardines s, lateness, absences, or truancy as well as stating that written notificat ion, with 24 hours by U.S. Mail, must be provided to parents explaining why their student was suspended (Florida State Legislature, 2005, 1006.09(1)(b)). The matrix should identify the zero tolerance offe nses determined by the educational leaders and community representatives, accompanied by wr itten explanations and consequences. Supporting the notion that zero to lerance policies should be reserved for those offenses that pose a very serious breach of conduct with the intent of threatening the safe ty of those at school, the fourth element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is a clear statement that possession of weapons in school or at a school f unction is the only zero tolerance offense. Even with the possession of a gun, knife, or other shar p object, the educationa l leadership of the district must assure the implement ation of safeguards so that due process hearings are guaranteed to every individual student. The fifth element that every St udent Code of Conduct should in clude is an explanation that the alternative schools are an option for any stud ent who violates the St udent Code of Conduct. Those reading the policy should be made aware that the alternative education settings are not just for students who have brought knive s to schools or who have alrea dy sold drugs, but also for the

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102 chronically disruptive and atrisk students that have not found success in abiding by their regular schools Student Code of Conduct. The sixth element that every Student Code of Conduct should include is an Amnesty Clause. This is a clause that sp ecifically states that, should a student discover he or she has unknowingly brought a weapon on campus or a sc hool bus, and if they immediately and personally notify school personnel upon such a di scovery, that the zero tolerance punishment will not apply. The Student Code of Conduct needs to include, however, that under Florida State Law, both the local law enforcement and State At torneys office must be notified that a weapon was on campus. The seventh element is that every Student Code of Conduct should be printed using an easily readable format. This format should includ e a table of contents, page numbers, a font no smaller than 12point, and printed using ink that is neither faint nor one that smudges. This element may seem trite, but much difficulty was e xperienced in gathering the data for this policy analysis as a result of the absence of one or al l of the above basics when publishing their Student Codes of Conduct. Along with an easily readable format, the St udent Code of Conduct should be easily available, distributed to each student in hardcopy form as well as accessible online. Create and Implement a Three CHANCE System of Educational Settings The seven model elements proposed provide Fl oridas public schools with a Student Code of Conduct that upholds zero tole rance mandates as outlined in the GunFree Schools Act of 1994. It also supports the philosophic al belief of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that, in a democratic society, the notion of individual consideratio n must be awarded to all students. The shortterm outcome of this dissertation was to provide Fl oridas school districts with the tools to construct wellwritte n, concise, and fair Student C odes of Conduct. An additional,

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103 longterm outcome was to address the School housetoJailhouse tr end in Florida by eliminating expulsion from every St udent Code of Conduct. Expulsi ons in Florida would instead be replaced with safeguards and options that allow students to move within a ThreeCHANCE system of educational setti ngs until they obtain their high school diploma (Figure 5). CHANCE represents the acronym Changing Hab its After New Character Education. The FirstCHANCE all students get is at their regul arly zoned educational setting. This is the presumptive placement for all students. If the st udents are being continually suspended because they cannot successfully abide by the Student Codes of Conduct in the FirstCHANCE schools, students are then given a sec ond opportunity to prove themselves at the SecondCHANCE alternative school. SecondCHANC E schools could also be used for chronically disruptive students, chronically truant st udents, and atrisk students. Ideally each county would have their own SecondCHANCE school, but smaller counties may combine their funds to create one shar ed facility. SecondCHA NCE alternative schools could be facilitated in one of two ways. One was would be to resemble th e successful residential alternative education settings for atrisk or chronically disruptive students currently facilitated by the National Guard Youth Challenge Academie s program discussed in Chapter 2. The second way would be a day program that would closely resemble the First-CHANCE school with more restrictions, less students, and less electives. The SecondCHANCE schools would also serve as the setting for students who have violated zero tolerance polic ies (excluding those who were convicted of felonies). If students still cannot find success in thei r SecondCHANCE schools, or have been convicted of a felony, then their final edu cational opportunity woul d be a ThirdCHANCE educational setting located at the residential j uvenile correction facili ty. By providing three

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104 levels of educational settings in Florida, a ll students in Florida woul d be required to attend school in one of the three CHANCE schools, even if they had violated a zero tolerance policy in their regular educational setting and were not allowed back for one calendar year. The CHANCE program would essentially eliminate children from ever being expelled from public education; instead, children would simply move between the three CHANCE sc hools until they have completed the requirements for graduation or a high school equivalent certification program. Recommendations for Future Research It is the hope of all educational leaders th at the number of stude nts who commit violent acts in schools will decrease in the future. Resorting to violence to remedy problems is nothing new to schools, however, and the days of taki ng it outside and fighting with fists have been replaced with more extreme acts of retaliati on. Bringing guns or knives into schools and killing students in their own cafeterias and libraries has become a method of revenge for many of todays troubled students. While some state and federal reports indi cate that schools have less violence today compared to when the GunFree Schools Act was originally implemented in 1994, others contend that those reports are fundamentally flawed because they rely on selfreporting mechanisms that are dependant on the responde nt being honest when completing the survey. School administrators are not inclined to presen t their schools as being unsafe because it might reflect poorly on the administrations capability to ensure the safety of their students. This pressures many of todays administ rators, aided by their districts, to conceal and purposefully underreport as many violent acts as possible. Th e question still exists as to whether zero tolerance policies are e ffective in either reducing acts of violence or creating a safer school climate, resulting in seven recommendations as to how this question can be addressed:

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105 1. Investigate the percentage of public school dist ricts that implemented zero tolerance policies against guns in their Student Codes of C onduct and whether having those zero tolerance policies actually reduced viol ence in those districts. 2. Examine whether the inclusion of more than ju st guns in zero tolerance policies has reduced the crime rates in schools. 3. Study the effectiveness of educating atrisk st udents in their regular education setting compared to educating them at an alternative education setting. 4. Study the effectiveness of the pr ograms offered at juvenile corre ction facilities, highlighting what the best facilities are for educating at risk students and possibly recommending ways in which to increase the effectiveness of educati ng atrisk pupils prior to them committing more serious offenses in their childhoods. 5. Examine the physical settings and institutions where chronically disruptive students attend school once they are suspended or removed for violating a zero tolera nce policy, relating the physical setting to the developmental continuum of students found in elementary, middle, and high school settings. 6. Examine the best pedagogy for working with ch ronically disruptive students in relation to their grade level, searching for ways to best meet the needs of students who are placed in alternative education settings. While Florida law s tipulates that, if districts operate alternative education settings, then the setting must meet th e educational, emotional, and social needs of the students, the Florida Department of Educa tion offers no guidelines on how to monitor the effectiveness of reaching these goals. Examining how to do this would be greatly beneficial. 7. Examine the social and financial ramifications that zero toleranc e policies have on the likelihood of success later as adults for children who lost their opportunity to an education as a result of violating a zero tolerance policy. Include an ex amination of what eventually happened to these children and what the costs ha ve been to society in terms of financial investments in constructing prisons their actual incarceration ra tes, murder rates, and other societal indicators that demonstrat e a lack of success since childhood. Summary When analyzing the differences in the Stude nt Codes of Conduct developed by large and small school districts in response to zero tolera nce policies related to th e implementation of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994, the first research question examined differences according to whether the districts include d a definition of the term zero tolerance Based on the data gathered during this study, students in larger districts are more likely to a ttend schools where their Student

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106 Codes of Conduct specifically defi ne what a zero toleran ce policy is and what it means to have a mandatory punishment associated with violating one of those policies. The second research question examined di fferences among Floridas large and small school districts according to whether the distri cts included a zero tole rance policy against guns. All of the large districts ( 100%) had mandatory punishments for the possession of guns while only 85% of Floridas small districts mandated a suspension or expulsion. The results indicate that students who live in small di stricts are less likely to atte nd schools that have mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the possession of g uns than students who live in large school districts. The third research question examined differe nces among Floridas large and small school districts regarding whether the districts included a zero tolerance policy against knives. The data revealed that 88% of the large districts had ma ndatory punishments for the possession of knives while only 47% of Floridas small districts ma ndated a suspension or expulsion. The results indicate that students wh o live in small districts are less likely to attend schools that have mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the possessi on of knives than students who live in large school districts. The fourth research question examined diffe rences among Floridas large and small school districts according to whether th e districts included a zero tole rance policy against drugs. The data revealed that 88% of the large districts had mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the possession of drugs while only 74% of Floridas small districts mandated such punishments. The results indicate that students who live in small districts are less likely to attend schools that have mandatory suspensions or expulsions for the possessi on of drugs than students who live in large school districts.

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107 The fifth research question examined differe nces among Floridas large and small school districts according to whether th e districts included a zero tole rance policy against bullying. The data revealed that 27% of the large district s had mandatory punishments for those who bully other students while only 15% of Floridas sm all districts mandated a suspension or expulsion. The results indicate that students who live in small districts are le ss likely to attend schools that have mandatory suspensions or expulsions for bul lying than students who live in large school districts. The sixth research question examined differe nces among Floridas large and small school districts regarding whether the di stricts included an opti on of an alternative education setting for students who violated a zero tolera nce policy. The data revealed th at 97% of the large districts had this option while only 47% of Floridas small districts provided an op tion of an alternative education setting. The results indica te that students who live in sm all districts are less likely to have an option to attend an alte rnative education setting than students who live in large school districts. Student Codes of Conduct are the heart of the legal approach to student discipline (Brown & Beckett, 2006, p. 241). Following the mandates of the GunFree Schools Act of 1994 and to create safe learning environments for th eir students, Floridas 67 school districts have each implemented their own versions of zero to lerance policies in their Student Codes of Conduct. It is the responsibil ity of educational leaders and community members to evaluate whether their districts Student Code of Conduct is designed with the intention of maintaining safe schools or if they are focused on pushing stud ents out of their regu lar educational setting. This study analyzed these Codes of Conduct in Fl orida and, as a result of that analysis and a

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108 review of current lite rature, provided recommended guideli nes for a model Student Code of Conduct and a three CHANCE altern ative to expulsion from school.

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109 Table 5. Seven elements to include in a model student code of conduct Element 1: A definition of the term zero tolerance that reflects the phi losophy that a zero tolerance offense is one where a student is guilty of a very serious breach of conduct, a breach where it is clear that th e student had the intent of threatening the safety of others at school. Element 2: A system of safeguards that provides, prior to administering any consequences, individual consideration for all students by considering their maturity level, past infractions and examining the intent of their actions. Element 3: A matrix of all possible disciplin e infractions (possession of guns, knives, or drugs, as well as bullyin g, stealing, fighting, sexual harassment, etc). Element 4: A restriction that includes the po ssession of weapons ( both guns and knives) as the only zero tolerance offenses since they could threaten the safety of those at school. Element 5: An explanation that the alternativ e schools are a part of the district schools and are an option for any student who vi olates the Student Code of Conduct. Element 6: An Amnesty Clause that specifically states that should a st udent discover he or she has unknowingly brought a weapon on cam pus or a school bus, and if they immediately and personally notify sc hool personnel upon such a discovery, that the zero tolerance punishment will not apply. Element 7: The Student Code of Conduct s hould use an easily readable format that includes a table of contents, page nu mbers, a font no smaller than 12point, and the use of ink that is neither fain t nor one that smudges. It should be distributed to each student in hardcopy form as well as accessible online.

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110 Table 5. Changing habits after new character education (CHANCE) schools FirstCHANCE: All students get a chance to attend their regul arly zoned educational setting. If they find they cannot successfully abide by the Student Codes of Conduct in their FirstCHANCE schools, then the students are given a second opportunity to prove themselves at the SecondCHANCE school. SecondCHANCE: Either a day school similar to the First-CHANCE school with less students and less electives, or a residential altern ative education setting for atrisk or chronically disruptive students, as we ll as a school for students who have violated zero tolerance policies (excluding those students who were convicted of felonies). ThirdCHANCE: If students still cannot find success in their SecondCHANCE school, or have been convicted of a felony, thei r final educationa l opportunity would be the ThirdCHANCE educational setti ng located at a residential juvenile correction facility. Students would remain in one of the th ree CHANCE schools until they complete the requirements for graduation or a high school equivalent certification program.

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111 APPENDIX A ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICIES IN FL SCHOOL DISTRICTS CODEBOOK The school districts under c onsideration provided their St udent Codes of Conduct to the researcher. The researcher re ad the Student Codes of Conduc t in order to categorize the variables. All variables were marked onto th e coding form by one coder, the researcher. The total number of vari ables (V) recorded on the coding form were eight: (V1) The school distri cts assigned number. (V2) The districts student popula tion (0=Small, 1=Medium/Large). (V3) Does the districts Student Code of Conduct include a definition of the term zero tolerance (0=No, 1=Yes)? (V4) Does the districts Student Code of Conduct include guns (0=No, 1=Yes)? (V5) Does the districts Student Code of Conduct include knives (0=No, 1=Yes)? (V6) Does the districts Student Code of Conduct include drugs (0=No, 1=Yes)? (V7) Does the districts Student Code of Conduct include bullying (0=No, 1=Yes)? (V8) Does the districts St udent Code of Conduct include an alternative educational setting for those students who have been suspended or expelled (0=No, 1=Yes)?

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112 APPENDIX B ANALYSIS OF ZERO TOLERANCE POLICI ES IN FLORIDA SCHOOL DISTRCTS CODING FORM (V1) The school districts assigned number: __________ (V2) The districts student populatio n (0=Small, 1=Medium/Large): __________ In reviewing the districts Student Code of Conduct (SCC), the fo llowing variables were categorized with a 1 if the SCC included the variable as related to zero tolerance policies and with a 0 if the SCC did not include the variable as related to zero tolerance policies: (V3) Does the districts Student Code of Conduct include a definition of the term zero tolerance: __________ (V4) Does the districts SCC include guns: __________ (V5) Does the districts S CC include knives: __________ (V6) Does the districts S CC include drugs: __________ (V7) Does the districts S CC include bullying: __________ (V8) Does the districts SCC include an alternative educational setting for those students who have b een suspended or expelled: __________ Comments: ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________

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113 APPENDIX C UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTIONA L REVIEW BOARD APPROVAL LETTER

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114 APPENDIX D INITIAL LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS June 28, 2006 Brian J. Schoonover 6549 Madison Street St. Augustine, FL 32080 904 brian2337@yahoo.com Dear Director of Student Services: My name is Brian Schoonover and I am a doctoral st udent at the University of Florida. I am gathering information for the pur pose of conducting a policy analys is that compares the student discipline policies and procedures from all 67 school districts in Florida. As a result of this analysis, I hope to develop a m odel policy that might be helpfu l to school districts throughout Florida. To make my study as complete as possible, I would appreciate you sending me a copy of the student code of conduct or simila r student discipline guidelines or matrixes that are currently enacted in your school district. I am not intere sted in collecting from you any data relating to particular incidences nor in collecting inform ation on specific infractions; I simply plan on comparing the wording of all 67 district policies as they relate to school discipline. The name of your district will remain conf idential throughout my report. Thank you for your cooperation. Should assistance in interpreting or cl arifying any of your district policies be necessary, pl ease indicate your willingness to be contacted and interviewed by telephone by signing and returning the enclosed card to me. According to the University of Florida guidelines, I cannot offer you any monetary compensation for your assistance. I would, however, like to provide you with an executiv e summary of my findi ngs, including suggested policy recommendations for behavi or guidelines. If you have any questions regarding the purpose of my research, pleas e contact me at 904. Please send all materials to 6549 Madison Street; St. Augustine, FL 32080. Sincerely, Brian Schoonover University of Florida CC: UF Institutional Review Board Jim Doud, Dissertation Chairperson Jean Crockett, Dissertation Committee Member David Honeyman, Dissertation Committee Member David Quinn, Dissertation Committee Member

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115 APPENDIX E SECOND LETTER OF REQUEST FOR PUBLIC DOCUMENTS July 28, 2006 Brian J. Schoonover 6549 Madison Street St. Augustine, FL 32080 904 brian2337@yahoo.com Dear Director of Student Services: My name is Brian Schoonover and I am a doctoral student at the University of Florida. Earlier this month I sent your office a letter asking for your assistance on my doctoral research. I am gathering information for the pur pose of conducting a policy analys is that compares the student discipline policies and procedures from all 67 school districts in Florida. As a result of this analysis, I hope to develop a m odel policy that might be helpfu l to school districts throughout Florida. To make my study as complete as possible, I would appreciate you sending me a copy of the student code of conduct or simila r student discipline guidelines or matrixes that are currently enacted in your school district. I am not intere sted in collecting from you any data relating to particular incidences nor in collecting inform ation on specific infractions; I simply plan on comparing the wording of all 67 district policies as they relate to school discipline. The name of your district will remain conf idential throughout my report. Should assistance in interpreting or clarifying any of your district policies be necessary, please indicate your willingness to be contacted and interviewed by telephone by signing and returning the enclosed card to me. According to the Univer sity of Florida guidelines, I cannot offer you any monetary compensation for your assistance. I would, however, like to provide you with an executive summary of my findings. If you have any questions regard ing the purpose of my research, please contact me at 904. Please send all mate rials to 6549 Madison Street; St. Augustine, FL 32080. Sincerely, Brian Schoonover CC: UF Institutional Review Board Jim Doud, Dissertation Chairperson Jean Crockett, Dissertation Committee Member David Honeyman, Dissertation Committee Member David Quinn, Dissertation Committee Member

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116 REFERENCE LIST Advancement Project, Florid a State Conference of the NAACP, & the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (2006). Arresting development: Addressing the school discipline crisis in Florida. Washington, DC. Arndorfer, B., & James, D. (2005, May 22). Alternatives to suspension are limited. The Gainesville Sun, 5A. Associated Press & CBS News. (2005, April 28). Handcuffed 5-year-old sparks suit. Retrieved April 20, 2006, from www.cbsnews.com Blumenson, E., & Nilsen, E. (2003). One strike and youre out? Constitutional constraints on zero tolerance policies in public education. Washington University Law Quarterly, 81 (65), 65. Brown, L., & Beckett, K. (2006). The Role of the school district in student discipline: Building consensus in Cincinnati. The Urban Review, 38 235. CatalystChicago. (2006). Reform history: 1995 news brief Retrieved August 19, 2006, from www.catalystchicago.org Chepesiuk, R. (2005). Resurgence of teen inhalant use. Environmental Health Perspectives 113 (12), 808A. Chicago Board of Education. (1995). Uniform discipline code Chicago, IL: The Board of Education of the City of Chicago. Christie, K. (2005). Chasing the bullies away. Phi Delta Kappa, 86 725. Retrieved March 30, 2006, from the WilsonWeb database. Consolidated High School District 230. Homepage Retrieved Feb 9, 2006, from www.district.d230.org Corvo, K. (2000, Fall). Substance abuse, parentin g styles, and aggression: An exploratory study of weapon carrying students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education 46 (1), 1. Retrieved March 30, 2006, from the WilsonWeb database Couvrette, P. (2006, September 14). Gunman wrote: Hatred simmers within me. Yahoo News Retrieved September 14, 2006, from www.news.yahoo.com Crowley, M. (2007, May). No mercy, kid: in th e name of zero tolerance, our schools are treating innocent children like criminals. Readers Digest 35. Dutton, J. (2003, Jan). When girls bully girls. Biography 7 56. Education Publishing Company. (2006, July 28). Leave weapons seizures to the experts. Education 231 2.

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117 Elias, M. (2006, Aug 10). At schools, less tolerance for zero tolerance. USA Today 6D. Erickson, C., Mattaini, M., & McGuire, M. (20 04). Constructing nonviolent cultures in schools: The state of the science. Children and Schools 26 102. Epistemology. Websters Dictionary, Inc 2006. Retrieved October 12, 2006, from www.websteronlinedictionary.org Florida Department of Education. (2006). Florida districts & schools. Retrieved August 16, 2006, from www.fldoe.org/schoolmap Florida State Legislature. (2005). Florida safe and healthy schools act, 1006.13. Freidgan, A. (2003). The importance of definitions. The Data Administration Newsletter. Retrieved March 5, 2007, from www.tdan.com Gordon, J. (2003, Nov 16). The nightmare of school violence and zero tolerance. The New York Times 1A. Greco, C. (2006). Author calls for course to curb school bullying The Chicago Tribune Retrieved Feb 3, 2006, from www.chicagotribune.com Gregory, J. F. (1997). Three st rikes and theyre out: African American boys and American schools response to misbehavior. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 7 25. Hahn, R., & Bilukha, O. (2003). First reports evaluating the eff ectiveness of strategies for preventing violence: Firearm laws. Atlanta: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Huffines, N. (2000). Nightmare at Manatee high school. Retrieved July 10, 2006, from www.ztnightmares.com/html/nancy s story.htm Hyman, I., & Snook, P. (1999). Dangerous schools: What we can do about the physical and emotional abuse of our children. San Francisco: JosseyBass Publishers. James, D. (2005, May 22). Are public school suspensions too high? The Gainesville Sun, 4A. Kaczor, B. (2006, April 2). Lawmakers address teacher merit pay. The St. Augustine Record Retrieved April 2, 2006, fr om www.staugustine.com Keith, S., & Martin, M. (2005). C yberbullying: Creating a culture of respect in a cyber world. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 13 224. Kingsbury, A. (2006, April 24). The doover school. U.S. News & World Report, 30. Leary, A. (2006, May 1). His finest hour fathoms camps lowest. St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved July 12, 2006, from www.sptimes.com

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118 Majchrzak, A. (1984). Methods for policy research. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications. Malico, M. (1995). States moving to rid schools of guns Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Marek, A. (2006, July 24). A search and a settlement. U.S. News & World Report, Retrieved August 19, 2006, from www.usnews.com Marywood Retreat Center. (2005). Camprisk. St. Augustine, FL: Dio cese of St. Augustine. Retrieved May 20, 2005, from www.dosafl.com McAndrews, T. (2001). Zero tolerance policies. ERIC Digest 146, 6. McCloud, S. (2005). From chaos to consistency. Educational Leadership 62(5), 46. McMillan, J., & Schumacher, S. (2006). Research in education: Evidence-based inquiry (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. Mooij, T. (2005). National campaign effects on secondary pupils bu llying and violence. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 75 489. Neuendorf, K. (2002). The content anal ysis guidebook. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Noguera, P. (1995). Preventing and producing violence: A cr itical analysis of responses to school violence. Harvard Educational Review, 65 189. Nordling, J. (1999). Taking charge: Caring discipline t hat works at home and at school, (3rd ed.). Portland: SIBYL Publishing. Peterson, R. (2005). Safe and responsive schools. Retrieved May 14, 2005, from www.unl.edu/srs Pipho, C. (1998, June) Living with zero tolerance. Phi Delta Kappan, 79 725. Potts, K., Njie, B., Detch, E., & Walton, J. (2003). Zero tolerance in Tennessee: An update. Nashville, TN: Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, Office of Research and Education Accountability. Prior, R. (2005, July 10). Children in court. The St. Augustine Record, 6. Ravitch, D. (1999) Brookings papers on education policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Scarpa, S. (2005, February). School crime is down, or is it? District Administration, 19. Skiba, R. (2000). Zero tolerance, zero evidence : An analysis of school disciplinary practice. Indiana Education Policy Center, 1.

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119 Skiba, R. (2003). Consistent removal: Contributi ons of school discipline to the schoolprison pipeline. Harvard Civil Rights Project. Retrieved August 23, 2006, from the WilsonWeb database. Skiba, R., Reynolds, C., Graham, S., Sheras, P., Conoley, J., & GarciaVazquez, E. (2006, August 9). Are zero tolerance policies effective in the schools? An evidentiary review and recommendations. American Psychological Association. StonePalmquist, P. (2004). Nowhere to go: The devastating journey of youth expelled from Michigan schools. Student Advocacy Center of Michigan. Retrieved August 28, 2006, from www.studentadvocacycenter.org Sweeney, J. (2005). Mean girls, grown up. Health 151. Texas Public Policy Foundation. (2006). Zero tolerance reform restores common sense to punishment of students, Retrieved July 9, 2006, from www.texaspolicy.com Trochim, W. (2006). Reliability Retrieved August 16, 2006, from www.socialresearchmethods.net. U.S. Department of Education. (2000). Part F--Gun possession. Retrieved May 14, 2005, from www.ed.gov U.S. Department of Education. (2004). Guidance concerning state and local responsibilities under the Gun-Free Schools Act. Retrieved October 16, 2006, from www.ed.gov U.S. Department of Education. (2006). Crime and safety surveys database. Retrieved August 22, 2006, from www.nces.ed.gov U.S. Department of Education. (2006). Final regulations: Indivi duals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved October 17, 2006, from www.ed.gov U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educationa l Statistics, School Survey on Crime and Safety. (2000). Crime and safety surveys (CSS). Retrieved August 15, 2006, from www.nces.ed.gov U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and DrugFree Schools. (2006). Report on the implementation of the gun-free schools act of 1994 in the states and outlying areas for school year 2002 Retrieved August 28, 2006, from www.ed.gov U.S. Department of Justice. (2005). Indicators of school crime Retrieved August 22, 2006, from www.ojp.usdoj.gov Verdugo, R., & Glenn, B. (2002). Race-ethnicity, class and zero to lerance policies: A policy of discussion. Presented at the American Educati on Research Association Convention, New Orleans.

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121 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Brian James Schoonover graduated from No tre Dame Catholic High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1993. He graduated from Loyola University Chicago with honors in 1997, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in political science and minors in English and secondary education. After working for an educational nonprofit in Washington, D.C. in 1997, he moved to Tokyo, Japan and taught in the Tokyo Public Schools for eighteen months. Upon his return to the United States in 1999, Brian worked for the Chicago Tribune newspaper as well as InterChurch Refuge Ministries, where he taught English to newly arrived immigrants. In the fall of 1999, Brian accepted a teaching and coaching position at Loyola Academy College Preparatory School in Wilmette, Illinoi s, where he worked for three years while he obtained his Master in Educati on degree from Loyola University Chicago. Brian accepted his first administrative position as the Athletic Dire ctor for The Schools of St Benedict in Chicago in 2002. After his marriage to Heather Anne Gr een in 2003, they moved to Saint Augustine, Florida and have lived there ever since. Brian is in his fourth ye ar of employment with St. Johns County School District and is cu rrently the Assistant Principa l at South Woods Elementary School located in Elkton, Florida. Brian is the second of three sons of Michael and Diane Schoonover of Chattanooga, Tennessee. His older brother, Todd, resides in Memphis, Tennessee with his family and his younger brother, Curtis, resides in Neenah, Wisconsin with his family. When he has a moment of free time, Brian enjoys surfing, going to the be ach with his wife, and playing with his dogs.