The actions of some school districts regarding their zero tolerance policies in recent days have been almost laughable.

In one Pennsylvania case a few weeks ago, Johnny Jones, a 10-year-old fifth grader in York County, was suspended for violating his school's weapons policy. The fact that he used an imaginary gesture has outside observers scratching their heads.

Jones was walking back to his desk when a friend aimed a folder at him as if it was a gun. Jones retaliated by pulling back his arm as if releasing an arrow from an imaginary bow. A teacher was notified and Jones received a one-day suspension.

His parents were informed that the school district's code of conduct prohibits the use of replica or lookalike weapons. Because he had "threatened" another student with a "replica or representation of a firearm," he was in danger of being expelled.

John W. Whitehead, president of Rutherford Institute, which is defending the youngster, said we all want to keep our schools safe, but that officials should concentrate on dealing with the actual threats, rather than "senseless targeting of imaginary horseplay."

During the summer, another elementary school student in Suffolk, Va. was suspended for holding his pencil like a gun and pretending he was a Marine, just like his father.

Christopher Marshall, 7, was playing a game with another student when his teacher noticed him pretending to shoot his pencil like a gun. Both students were given a two-day suspension.

Two months ago, Cody Chitwood, 17, a Georgia student and an avid fisherman, landed in hot water after police doing a random search found fishing knives in a tackle box in his car, which violated the school weapon's policy. Chitwood turned himself but if prosecuted, he could face two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. He's hoping to get the felony dropped so he can still get in the Air Force.

Each of these infractions involved well-behaved students who got good grades.

If there was a grade for common sense, these districts would have trouble trying to defend their rigid policies.

By Jim Zbick

editor@tnonline.com