Student gets arrested for science experiement


Last may a student at Bartow High School in Florida made a mistake.  She was making a volcano for her science class.  Kids being kids, she was pressured into showing others on the playground how it works.  The method for this experiment was to mix toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum  foil together for the reaction.  This was a suggestion from a friend.  Now, true this could create the volcano effect she was looking for however what she didn’t know at the time is it also a bomb recipe.  Called The Works Bomb” taking these items together in a closed bottle can cause an explosion.  

According to her blog post, after mixing the items together in the bottle the cap popped off and smoke poured out.  Nobody was hurt as a result from the accident.  MountRedoubtEruption

The school listed this event under the “zero-tolerance” policy against explosives.  Police were called and she was arrested and charged with two felonies (that have since been dropped.)  Now, I agree that bombs are a bad thing and there should be a policy against them, anywhere!  This should have been a case of a student learning a lesson.  She was a model student with no history of problems.  There was no thought of doing harm or damage to anybody.  This could have been handled with a sit down discussion with the science teacher and the students. (It was the teacher that told her to find something else besides baking soda and vinegar because it was so 5th grade.)  Did he “educate” her on alternatives?  Was there any warnings for the experiment of substances that should not be used due to potential hazards?  I doubt it.

She is set to graduate soon and moving on to Florida Polytechnic University in the fall.  I am sure she will go on to do great things.  However now, due to a case of the ZT’s (zero-tolerance) she will have the felonies on her record for up to 5 years.  Why should such a simple mistake potentially harm her future?  I thought schools were there to educate.  Another example why we need to put the control back into our teachers and principals to discipline students on a case to case basis.  There is no one size fits all education system (not yet anyways) and there shouldn’t be one for disciplinary actions.

If your school has any of these policies let them know it’s got to go.  Write a letter, email, call, txt or maybe even visit and talk to them.  I agree there should be more oversight into the safety of our children.  I just don’t think it can be a cookie-cutter expel and arrest them all policy.

What do you think?  Do Zero-Tolerance policies need to go or are they a necessary evil in today’s world?  Let me know in the comments below!

sources: Huffington Post, cnet, Advancement Project.


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  1. #1 by Anonymous on June 2, 2014 - 8:25 am

    Zero tolerance policies were a knee-jerk reaction to a frightfully changing world but all they do is protect the decision makers from making bad decisions. Educators and schools should be able to look at cases individually and determine the outcome based on the student involved and the intent. Instead it is easier to treat everyone with a one size fits all solution. But the flip side is, if a bad decision is made, who is the blame? Parents will seek a scapegoat if their child is hurt. Either the school is held harmless if there is tragedy (except for outright neglect) or the school protects itself by treating every infraction the same.


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