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Democrat Sees South Carolina Classroom Video A Teachable Moment For Florida

Florida Senate

A Florida lawmaker is hoping video of a South Carolina deputy slamming a high school girl to the floor will fuel momentum for his sweeping reforms.

Sen. Dwight Bullard has no tolerance for “zero tolerance” and its law-and-order approach to school discipline.  The Miami Democrat says the video shows why. In it, a girl is violently thrown to the floor for refusing to leave her seat.

“Basically, it’s a child saying, ‘I don’t want to leave school today.’ So we don’t know what was going on at home. We don’t know what issues were impacting her desire to want to stay there. But rather than looking at it from, ‘It was an outburst,’ let’s look at it as to, ‘shouldn’t we be in the business of trying to keep kids in class?’”

Bullard’s 58-page bill gets rid of the term “zero tolerance.” It’s sprinkled with phrases like “restorative justice,” and “standards for intervention.” It forces school resource officers to disarm and requires them to take sensitivity training.

The bill has gotten nowhere in the past, but Bullard hopes this year will be different.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.