<b>Excessive punishment</b>

EDITOR: I was shocked to read about the excessive punishment handed down at Hillcrest Middle School for a sip of alcohol ("Barred from school," Tuesday). The punishment far exceeds the offense, and the school district forced the parents to sign a lengthy home school agreement — a de facto suspension — by threatening more severe punishment. The district explained that it must treat every infraction the same to "ensure the standardized treatment of all students."

It's an abuse of authority to force parents to sign an agreement by threatening more severe punishment. And it's a failure of responsibility not to consider each case individually. If zero tolerance means that minor and major infractions must be treated the same, then a lot of reputations are going to be unnecessarily tarnished. How many of us would have made it through school without a blemish if the rules had been so strictly enforced?

The mission of our schools is to teach our students. Those lessons should include wisdom and compassion, not inflexibility and the abuse of power. The district should rescind the punishments and wipe these students' records clean. They have suffered enough. This is indeed a teachable moment. Let's make sure we teach the right lesson.



<b>Saving SDC</b>

EDITOR: I want to thank Supervisor Susan Gorin for her leadership and compassionate dedication to the residents and workers at Sonoma Developmental Center ("Agreeing on a vision for SDC," Close to Home, Tuesday).

SDC is such an amazing piece of the history of Sonoma. It sits on a beautiful piece of land providing essential services to our most vulnerable citizens. The state should give careful consideration to its future for many reasons, not the least of which are people like my brother, Danny, a resident of Sonoma Developmental Center for almost 14 years.

My brother has to deal with autism, intellectual disability and mental illness. He has been kicked out of several community placements. The expert staff at Sonoma Developmental Center has literally saved his life more than once and never tried to send him away. Without services like those provided at the center, people like my brother might end up in jail, or worse.

We must continue to provide these services to those who need them, at a safe place on the land of SDC. On behalf of my brother and my family, thanks to Gorin and the SDC coalition members for making us proud to be part of Sonoma County.


Santa Rosa

<b>Some observations</b>

EDITOR: It is interesting to see all the letters from readers in The Press Democrat, almost overwhelming liberal. It is unhealthy for concerned citizens not to have all the facts so that they can make decisions for themselves.

I have always had this paper delivered to my home, even though I knew that this was a liberal bastion. Just an observation.

I also find that there are more than 700 men on Death Row in California and that almost every one of them has been there longer than the people they killed lived. I have also observed that almost all of them have killed women and children, and yet I have heard no outcry from the liberal establishment. Just an observation.


Santa Rosa

<b>An art culture</b>

EDITOR: Thank you for your recent articles on rising home prices and stronger bank profits. Amid all this, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board held a town hall-style forum this past Wednesday with more than 200 individuals representing the artist community, arts businesses, local foundations, arts educators and others in attendance. We spent a productive hour making connections, exploring and sharing our vision for a vibrant arts culture in Sonoma County. This is the missing piece in the jewel that is Sonoma County. Let's not hide this light under a bushel. Please report on efforts such as this, which are helping to bring us all together to build a community that draws visitors to us and supports the sustainability of an arts culture.


Santa Rosa