Across-the-aisle Oklahoma lawmakers slam state's 'zero tolerance' school laws

OKLAHOMA CITY - Another Oklahoma lawmaker spoke out against the state's current "zero tolerance" policies in public schools Thursday, only two days after a House bill was introduced aiming directly at the policy's reform.

State Rep. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, said Thursday she plans to offer legislation of her own this spring that will revise Oklahoma's "zero tolerance" policies. 

“When ‘zero tolerance’ policies were first implemented in our schools in the 1980s, they had the best of intentions,” Pittman said. “These laws have been studied for years now and we know that these laws have not been enacted equally.

Pittman called public schools "proverbial military zones" that discipline students with heavy handed punishments, often inconsistently.

“Most troubling, however, is the research that shows these policies overwhelmingly affect LGBTQ students, students of color, and disabled students, compared to white students," she said. "This means that the life choices for these groups of children are being forever impacted by even minor problems – or sometimes for even showing up to school with a pair of nail clippers – when they’re funneled into the juvenile justice system.”

Two days earlier, Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, made headlines after proposing legislation that would allow students the freedom to chew pastries into the likeness of a weapon.

The bill, House Bill 2351, would, perhaps less frivolously, give students the ability to bring some toy weapons to school, draw pictures of weapons in school and wear Second Amendment-related clothing without the fear of retribution.

Pittman said Thursday she would be willing to work with Kern on amending the state's "zero tolerance" laws in the future.

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