Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zero Tolerance, Overzealousness, & Dumbassery in Action

In general, "Zero Tolerance" is one of those things that sounds good to the unthinking, but in practice rules out the use of handy things like common sense, rational thought, or logic - it's "Zero Tolerance" after all, one size fits all, regardless of circumstances - right?

When combined with petty empire building, self-righteousness, and a distinct preference for emotive rather than logical thinking - this kind of thing inevitably leads to drama, injustice, and/or tragedy. It's not uncommon to hear of a child or youth expelled for having aspirin or a pocket knife with them in the educational environment, and now we hear of a case in Chico, California.

16yo Gary Tudesko had been out for a lovely morning hunting with a friend, and was intent on making class on time. Aware of school rules about firearms, he carefully parked off campus. Police dogs on some kind of dragnet mission alarmed on his truck, and when summoned from class, he stated he'd been hunting and that there were unloaded shotguns and ammo secured in his vehicle, and gave police permission to search his vehicle where they did indeed find such items. He was subsequently expelled, a matter now under appeal.

This leads us to a critical learning moment, one that we can't teach our youth too early - that authority is not necessarily your friend, and being "nice" is not necessarily your best course.

Tudesko would have been better advised, IMHO, to refuse any comment on the contents of his vehicle and declined to allow a search until a warrant was produced, thus making it far more difficult for the overzealous sorts now hassling him to find something to hassle him *with*. If arrested, his best course would have been to demand an attorney and a parent (as a minor) and refuse to state anything beyond his personal identifying information until such were supplied.

Now, it sucks that things in California (and sadly, many other places) have gone so far awry that someone with a generally favorable view of law enforcement such as myself is cheerleading for such a hard care and uncooperative approach. But short of advocating insurrection against a nanny state gone mad, minimizing cooperation in ones own destruction is probably the best path to damage control when faced with a bunch of zealots on the rampage du jour.

Tudesko is likely more or less screwed, barring moving to a more sensible state. It's unlikely in the extreme the high school junior will be re-admitted, and if he is, he will be stigmatized and under a microscope for the remainder of his academic career at Willows or any other California school, and they will more than likely do their darnedest to mess with his college prospects. He can pretty well kiss graduating with his friends goodbye. Good luck to him, but I am less than optimistic, and certainly wouldn't wish the joys of a "correctional" or "remedial" California school upon him.

Helpful soul that I am, the folks on the Board at Willows Unified School District that expelled this young man can be reached at :

Sherry Brott President 934-7573
Alex Parisio Vice-President 934-3656
Susan Domenighini Member 934-2084
Jeromy Geiger Member
James "Buck" Ward Member


The superintendent who advocated for this action can be best reached at (since he apparently declines to publish his district contact info on the web) via:

Kim Schmies, Administrative Assistant
Tel 530-934-6600, Extension 2
Fax 530-934-6609


Holly said...

When they started "Zero Tolerance" programs here, almost two decades ago, I told my kids to defend themselves if necessary. I was not going to allow them to be victimized because of Z.T. Forunately,the situation never occurred. And that School Board has been replaced, btw.

Old NFO said...

That is @#&* ridiculous...

Christina RN LMT said...

GC, Clark County School District has an asinine "Zero Tolerance Policy" as well. Just like Holly, I told Silver I didn't care if she got into trouble, she'd better defend herself if attacked to the very best of her ability. Because I have zero tolerance for bullies and for bullshit.