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Zero Tolerance Strikes Again: Student Suspended for Innocent Mistake

Zero Tolerance Strikes Again: Student Suspended for Innocent Mistake

Everyone makes mistakes. Just ask Chaz Seale, a 17-year-old high school student from Livingston, Texas, who accidentally packed a can of beer in his lunch. When Chaz tried to do the right thing by owning up to his mistake, the school administration punished him severely.

According to the Seale family, while hurrying to get ready for school, Chaz reached into the refrigerator to get a soda and failed to notice that he had grabbed a similarly colored can of beer instead. It wasn’t until he opened his brown lunch bag later at school that Chaz realized his error.

Rather than hiding the can or drinking it for that matter Chaz immediately approached a teacher to hand it over in a responsible manner. “I gave it to the teacher thinking I wouldn’t get in trouble, and I got in trouble,” Chaz said.

That’s because the teacher reported the incident to the school’s assistant principal. Despite the fact that Chaz’s explanation seems entirely plausible, the principal handed down an excessive punishment that would last over two months.

The first part of the punishment, a three-day suspension, has already been completed. That alone would seem to serve as a sufficient deterrent from students bringing alcohol to school in the future intentionally or otherwise. However, the subsequent punishment is even more severe: an automatic two-month transfer to a local alternative high school for troubled teens.

Though the Livingston Independent School District has publicly said it stands by the principal’s punishment, Chaz’s mother, Christi Seale, has appealed the decision. Thus far she has managed to get his time at the alternative school reduced to one month. Still, that’s one month too long to interrupt a student’s regular educational curriculum, particularly for a student who has previously had a clean disciplinary record.

Christi told the press that she doesn’t like how her son has been punished for being honest. She also worries that such a major mark on his permanent record will affect his chances of getting into college.

As schools ramp up zero tolerance policies in the hopes of discouraging even minor rule infractions, the number of ridiculous, unwarranted punishments being handed down has skyrocketed. Last year alone, there were several high profile examples of zero tolerance gone wrong, including suspending a 7-year-old that nibbled a PopTart into what a teacher thought looked like a gun, expelling a student who wrote a poem with dark (but non-threatening) subject matter, and arresting teenagers involved in a water balloon fight.

Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but the biggest mistake here was made by the administration at Livingston High School. By deciding that pre-established rules should trump common sense, the principal has taught Chaz far more about the fallacy of authority than the importance of discipline.

Please sign and share the petition to tell the school administration to fix its mistake.

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2:27AM PDT on May 14, 2014

Petition signed.
This has only taught Chaz NOT to TRUST his teacher and principal.

4:47AM PDT on Mar 17, 2014

We need to stop punishing kids who try to do the right thing. This is politically correctness gone a muck!

4:26AM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

Just plain silly

10:15AM PDT on Mar 10, 2014

Rules over common sense.

10:04PM PST on Mar 7, 2014

How absolutely ridiculous. If you punish young people for telling the truth, you encourage them to lie - is that not obvious?! And these are supposed to be educated people. Pfft.

8:26AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Kudus to Chaz's mom; according to ABC Eyewitness News on Thursday, Feb 27, Chaz was to return to his regular school on Feb 28. The "minor in possession" charge has been dropped" and his mother will continue to work to get this incident cleared off his record.

The Superintendent seems to admit that the school officials mishandled the case.

Livingston High School has been publicly embarrassed--this case is on the internet to stay:)

Since I never sign a petition without doing a little research I realized that this was already old when I first noticed it. (as of today this one is still up) However, it brought to my attention many disturbing issues: police in schools to maintain order; even young children restrained,tasered and pepper sprayed; hundreds of thousands of children ticketed for childish misbehaviors; excellent teachers changing professions while blind rule followers are rewarded; government legislated and school policies that take decisions out of the hands of sane educators exist and are hard to change. And the list goes on and on. For those who live and vote where these things are happening it is important that sane and caring citizens start working for change. For those of us who live where this is not happening yet, we need to be watchful and diligent to protect and improve the education system we already have.

10:11PM PST on Mar 5, 2014

I guess in this case HONESTY is NOT the best policy. We teach children to be truthful and honest and when this child does the right thing he is punished for doing the right thing. He should have NOT been punished but praised for his honesty. Zero tolerance is LAZY. What happened to warnings or detention which can accomplish the same thing for minor infractions? I believe that if a child brings a gun to school that is a Zero tolerance offense but biting a Pop tart in the shape of a gun is ridiculous and the child should have been left off with a warning. What happened to common sense??

11:57AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

This is so ignorant, I can't believe the school district would do such a thing. Of course you could say the young man could have quietly thrown it into the trash without anyone having seen it, but perhaps a friend, or someone sitting close by DID see it. One thing this teaches kids is to lie, so that something like this doesn't happen to them. A 3-day suspension was ridiculous to start with. Was the drink opened? It wasn't a gun or other weapon, and it wasn't an illegal drug. Words fail me at a time like this!! I would bet that if something like this happened to the administrator's child, they would have swept this under the rug immediately.

3:43PM PST on Mar 4, 2014

Here we go again! IDIOTS, JERKS, KNOW-IT-ALLS, EGOTISTICAL. Those are just some of the names for this administration. This zero tolerance rule is ridiculous because not every infraction is being fairly/equally disciplined. If the student is a good student and owns up to the infraction, as this young man did much to his chagrin, then a suspension in school/out of school, would be enough. He does NOT need to be sent to a school for special students. the administration needs to take their heads out of where they are hidden, see the daylight and realize that all infractions are not supposed to be treated the same. They are individual incidents and they need to be treated individually not with a blanket.

2:00PM PST on Mar 4, 2014

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