Kennewick schools change the way they discipline

Kennewick schools change the way they discipline »Play Video
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- A big change for Kennewick schools: The district is doing away with its zero tolerance policies. It's a big change for the district and something that's been an issue on a national scale. The Kennewick School Board worked for months to change our local discipline policy. KEPR looked into the difference.

You've heard stories of kids getting kicked out of school for simulating a gun with their fingers, a classic example of a zero tolerance policy. It's these kinds of cases that some argue lack common sense, and the kind of thing Kennewick schools wanted to change. This includes the zero tolerance policy for fighting, even for the kid who got sucker punched.

"I remember one time, I got punched in the face and then my lip split open, and I got suspended, but I didn't do anything," said Jose Prado, a former Kennewick High School student.

The policy in the Kennewick School District had been a ten-day suspension for fighting, whether you started it or not. But now, it's moving past zero tolerance. Superintendent Dave Bond says each situation will be looked at specifically.

"I certainly think it's a positive change," Bond said. "I think there was a time and a place for no tolerance policies, but I also believe that some folks have taken those to the extreme."

Principals will have the discretion to decide appropriate punishment. The change was made without a lot of fanfare just a few weeks ago.

The superintendent hasn't heard back directly from parents about the change in the discipline policy, but he says he would imagine that they're happy with the change - especially those who felt their child had been wrongly punished in the past.

"I think when you're the parent and your kid is involved in one of these incidents, if your kid was trying to get away or extract themselves, you certainly don't want them to get the same consequence as the kid who was the aggressor," said Bond.

Jose Prado says this might have made a difference when he was a student.

"They should see who hit who first. They should get both views out," said Prado.

Moving past zero tolerance to weigh each case as it stands.