Zero tolerance meets common sense

Georgia’s revised Zero Tolerance law gives local school systems and judges more discretion in dealing with children who bring a weapon to school but don’t intend to hurt anyone.  Senate Sponsor Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) introduced the law after hearing about a 14-year old Morgan County boy who was arrested after he voluntarily turned in a fishing knife to his principal last year. “Students have been expelled or sent to jail for bringing a key chain, nail clippers, and even a Cub Scout utensil to school,” said Jones. “This legislation brings common sense to the all or nothing approach that school officials use to discipline kids under zero tolerance policies.”

The law changes the juvenile code to make a first offense a delinquent act, rather than a designated felony.  SB299 won unanimous passage in the legislature. Governor Perdue signed the bill May 25. The action comes too late for 14 year old Eli Mohone, who was convicted of a felony for turning in his knife.  WSB radio reports he’s on probation for a year, but hopes to get his record expunged.