It is apparently time to add helping a friend to the endless list of innocuous acts that can land a public school student in hot water. Administrators have long embraced “zero tolerance” rules regarding violence, drugs, and weapons that have led many parents to accuse them of ignoring common sense.
An honors student at North Andover High School in Massachusetts, Erin Cox recently learned how draconian such policies can be.
After receiving a phone call from an intoxicated friend at a party, Cox agreed to go pick her up.
“I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do,” she explained, noting she was concerned with preventing her friend “from getting in the car when she was intoxicated” or “getting in the car with someone else who was drinking.”
As Cox attempted to extract her friend from the party, however, authorities showed up to reprimand the underage drinkers. Despite the fact she wasn’t there for the party and had not been drinking, Cox also received a warning from law enforcement.
In the end, police vouched for Cox’s sobriety, and she looked forward to continuing her school year and volleyball season. Unfortunately, her school had another idea.
The student athlete was informed that her position as team captain had been stripped, and she received a five-game suspension. The decision, she was told, was based on her violation of the school’s zero tolerance disciplinary policy.
The incident has taken an emotional toll on the conscientious student, according to her mother, who confirmed she is “very proud of her.”
Locals have rallied around the senior, whose family has filed a lawsuit to remedy the unfair treatment. One of the lawyers working on the case explained what repercussions this punishment could have.
“If a kid asks for help from a friend,” Wendy Murphy explained, “you don’t want that kid to say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you; I might end up in trouble at school.’”
While no one supports a laissez-faire attitude toward drug and alcohol use among kids, there is no valid argument for punishing a star student for trying to be a solution instead of part of the problem.
–Western Journalism staff writer
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