Tue July 26, 2011

Newly-Formed Task Force Tackles Zero-Tolerance in Colorado Schools

State lawmakers are planning to review schools’ disciplinary procedures for juveniles with a focus on zero-tolerance policies.

Such policies result in the punishing of any infraction of a rule, regardless of circumstances.  Senate Bill 133, passed this year, sets up a task force to examine Zero Tolerance in the state’s schools.  Supporters of the bill say these are post columbine polices that often have unintended consequences. 

“We want to look at this and bring things back into balance to where we are actually prosecuting the criminals but not over-prosecuting and not over-criminalizing people and just giving them records and just hamper them with jobs and in their lives,” says House Sponsor, Republican Representative B.J. Nikkel.

Each year about 10,000 students are referred to law enforcement by their schools, sometimes for minor offenses that don’t threaten school safety.  The bi-partisan task force holds its first meeting Wednesday in Denver, with several more meetings to follow in the coming months – all will be open to the public. 

The group consists of state lawmakers including Representative Nikkel, Democratic sponsors Senators Linda Newell and Evie Hudak, and representatives from schools and law enforcement.

They are expected to report findings and recommendations to the state legislature later this year.

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