Source: (2000) Denver University Law Review. 77: 795.

There is a trend in public education toward "zero tolerance" policies. Zero tolerance policies are designed to suspend or expel from public schools students who commit a single occurrence of proscribed conduct. The trend is largely a response to increased youth violence or the perception of increased youth violence, particularly in the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings. In this context, William Haft contends that zero tolerance responses directly counter a fundamental purpose of public education, namely, the purpose of preparing children to live in a democratic society. Exclusionary policies should be a last resort not a first resort. Hence, it is necessary to have intermediate responses available to teachers and administrators. Haft urges the application of restorative justice principles and practices - particularly victim-offender mediation - as alternative responses to exclusionary policies in school settings.