Larry P. McDougal
Larry P. McDougal - Attorney at Law
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Are zero-tolerance laws fair?

While many teenagers residing in Houston, Texas, may look like full-grown adults, their parents are probably the first to say that their children do not always operate at the maturity level one would like. Sometimes this leads to juveniles taking part in activities that leave them facing school discipline.

Unfortunately, the way that discipline is meted out is not equal. Research provided by the Education and Justice departments finds that racial discrimination is alive and well where school discipline is concerned. More specifically, African-American students are expelled or suspended three times more often than their Caucasian peers. This is despite the fact that they only make up 15 percent of the population.

The proportion of African-American students who get in trouble at school as compared to their white counterparts is not the only issue. As a result of the zero-tolerance approach, used by many schools throughout the nation since the 1990s, the consequences those teens face for incidents that occur at school are severe. Despite the severity of the school discipline, studies find that many of the kids who are suspended or expelled from school, eventually go on to face issues in the criminal justice system. The Education and Justice departments recommend that schools back off on the current state of school discipline.

Most parents want what is best for their children. In most situations this does not involve their child being caught up in a life of crime. Accordingly, many parents do whatever is necessary when they do get into trouble, to minimize the consequences. In some cases this involves consulting a criminal law attorney before things get too out of hand.

Source: KETK, “Zeroed out: Minority kids disproportionately impacted by zero-tolerance laws,” Jan. 25, 2014

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