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.
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.