Legislators here areworking to keep students from getting in serious trouble for simulating a weapon with harmless objects like their fingers, Pop-Tarts or Legos.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican from Ocala, Fla., said his bill is designed to bar overreactions under zero-tolerance policies designed to keep weapons out of public schools.
The bill cleared a state House panel Wednesday and would bar school districts from suspending students for “brandishing a partially consumed pastry or other food item” bitten into the shape of a weapon or “possessing a toy firearm or weapon made of plastic snap-together building blocks.”
Baxley dubbed the measure the Pop-Tart bill, a moniker that refers to a Maryland student who chewed a toaster pastry into the shape of a pistol and was suspended, inspiring similar legislation in that state that has not become law. The boy later received a lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association as Republicans in the area rallied around his cause.
A GOP legislator in at least one other state, Oklahoma, also has taken up the gauntlet.
Florida and other states adopted zero-tolerance laws in wake of high-profile school shootings. However, in recent years some school districts have encouraged administrators to find alternatives to suspension or expulsion, and lawmakers have tried to give educators more flexibility on laws they say may have gone too far.