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Education


Children and advocates protest against zero-tolerance policies in Ohio
Advocates says keeping kids out of school is not a good learning experience
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
Children protest zero tolerance policies at the Ohio Statehouse.
Courtesy of Karen Kasler
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A few dozen school-age children joined a union-backed coalition at the Statehouse today for a vocal protest. They were demonstrating against “zero tolerance” policies that result in kids being kicked out of school.

LISTEN: KASLER ON ZERO TOLERANCE

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The group which included some students who’d been suspended or expelled from elementary school, held up signs reading “Give kids second chances” and “More help; less punishment”.

Molly Shack with the Ohio Student Association says the worst stories she has heard involve suspensions at schools she says are underfunded and under-resourced.

“These are not what the policies were intended for, for serious fights or for weapons or for drugs," Shack says. "These are for kids being disruptive or being late. We have kids that get suspended for truancy, actually.”

9-year-old Jalen Greathouse from Columbus acknowledges he is a class clown, and says he has been suspended for making a classmate laugh.

LISTEN: GREATHOUSE ON SUSPENSION
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(0:12)

“I’m an advanced student in class," Greathouse says. "So it makes me feel bad about myself because I’m not learning and then they say it’s my fault for not getting that test right.”

The group is supporting a bill that would overturn the 16-year-old state law requiring schools to adopt zero tolerance policies, but it would still require mandatory year-long expulsions of students who bring guns to school.

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