Kids' suspensions renew debate over zero tolerance

By By MICHAEL RUBINKAM

Small children have been getting into deep trouble at school lately, and their parents say it's because educators are hypersensitive in the wake of the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December.

Parents say school officials have suspended or threatened to suspend students in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts over minor infractions involving pretend weapons.

The extent to which the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn., might be influencing educators' disciplinary decisions is unclear.

But parents contend administrators are projecting adult fears onto children who pose no threat to anyone.

Though Newtown introduces a new wrinkle to the debate, a slew of recent high-profile suspensions over perceived threats or weapons infractions renews old questions about the wisdom of "zero tolerance" policies.

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