Arrested for Zero-Tolerance
“The scariest part was probably being handcuffed.”
By all accounts Kyle Thompson is a normal 14-year old kid who loves playing football and hanging out with his friends. His principal says he’d love to have an entire school filled with students like Kyle.
And yet, after a misunderstanding with his teacher, Kyle was led from school in handcuffs, was expelled from all state public schools for a year, and is now spending the year under house arrest.
Kyle’s teacher wanted to see a note he had written, and when she playfully tried to take it from him, he tried to hold on to it. Even though all the witness statements said that the teacher was joking around and Kyle didn’t act aggressively, the incident ended with Kyle under arrest. He’s now represented by a criminal defense attorney.
Sadly, Kyle’s story is not unique. Countless young students are treated the same—and even worse—because of a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to school discipline that is spreading across the U.S. It takes kids out of the education system and funnels them into the criminal justice system because of a single, small infraction. There, they can look forward to a life of neglect and lost opportunity, as it can be impossible to find new schools or attend college once their records are tainted.
And because of documented bias in the application of justice, these policies often hit students of color the hardest. In Kyle’s case, his school says it was prevented from handling punishment differently, stating: “The issue raised in this petition presents an opportunity for citizens to examine ‘zero tolerance’ laws in Michigan…”
So this doesn’t have to be the end of Kyle’s story, or the stories of thousands of students just like him. With enough public pressure, we can push Michigan to change their ill-conceived ‘zero-tolerance’ law and set an example for states to prioritize educating, not imprisoning our young students.
Sign the petition now calling on the Michigan Legislature to reform zero-tolerance laws and keep students like Kyle in school and out of jail.