Virginia School System Moves To Expel Teenage Girl For Taking Birth Control Pill at Her High School

200px-pilule_contraceptiveThe Fairfax County school system has added yet another example of how ridiculous the “zero-tolerance” drug policy can become when officials refuse to apply a modicum of common sense or judgment. A teenage girl at Oakton High School took her pill at lunch and was immediately seized by a teacher, accused of violating the drug policy, suspended for two weeks, and recommended for expulsion — even though the school acknowledges that she was taking a prescription pill.

For the record, my children attend the Fairfax County public school system.

The actions taken in this case are the product of “zero-tolerance” rules that teachers have defined as “zero judgment” in suspending children in some cases for possession of an aspirin. The Supreme Court will be considering a case this month involving the strip searching of a 13-year-old child in Arizona in search of ibuprofen tablets.

Fairfax will not even allow over-the-counter painkillers at the school without registering them with the school nurse (Arlington allows such pain killers). In Maryland, it took legislation to overturn a local rules requiring a doctor’s note for sunscreen at the school.

It turns out that it would have been better for the teenager in this case to have been found with heroin — which would have lead to a suspension of five days rather than two weeks. The girl is an honor student with no discipline problems and an athlete. Better to expel her, however.

According to a 2008 survey, more than a quarter of Fairfax teenagers, and 44 percent of 12th-graders are sexually active. In this case, the girl’s parents agreed with the decision to take the birth control.

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19 thoughts on “Virginia School System Moves To Expel Teenage Girl For Taking Birth Control Pill at Her High School”

  1. morons
    my daughter got suspended from school
    for 5 days for having birth control pills
    in her car in her purse on school property.
    im very glad she did not have any DIAPERS and
    a CAR SEAT in the back seat!
    she would have been expelled for life
    or given life WITHOUT parole?
    and THIS happened in the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS

  2. I agree with the good professor. The situation called for a little common sense, rather than a “one size fits all” application of “the policy.”

    Suspension? Expulsion? Ridiculous.

  3. BIL,
    My son was taking PX’d meds all through elementary school here, that is the policy of our board. We actually had 3 documents to complete at the beginning of each school year in order for him to be able to use his medications at school. One is completed by hiis treating GP, the other 2 by myself. In addition, he was actually not permitted to have the meds on his person, they had to be kept under lock & key at the school office.

  4. Canadian,

    HIPPA would make that an entirely voluntary disclosure, but a good idea nonetheless. Save everyone from wasting time.

  5. Perhaps the school board could institute a policy for students taking Px’d medications. A document, completed by a GP, ascertaining that the medication is Px’d for medical purposes kept on the student’s file would certainly eliminate the need to unnecessary suspensions.

  6. Can’t take a birth control pill on school grounds, but can be referred for an abortion off site, from school grounds…hmmm….zero tolerance produces a 2 week suspension for taking BC pills, but a student getting a surgical procedure that is not without some serious risks to the child’s life is fully tolerated. Yup, color me puzzled.

  7. Raf:

    She did not have the Rx with her at the time. If the Rx is with the drug there is no problem. My daughter has to take meds at lunch and she takes them in her lunch bag but she has a copy of the Rx with the meds.

    This is not a religious right issue, anyway Fairfax is actually pretty liberal now.

  8. I agree that the zero tolerance policies just provide an excuse for administrators to not have to make a decision. I am confused why the girl doesn’t take her birth control pill before she comes to school or after school? However, in light of the far religious right trying to stop birth control pills from being dispensed by claiming through the pharmacist that it is against their religious rights to dispense birth control pills, how can any school stop a person with a valid prescription from taking the pill themselves? It is time for Fairfax to join the real world.

  9. Private:

    “Ironically, this child’s experience is an invaluable lesson in the extraordinary, primitive, brutal ignorance of contemporary America”

    you and I must live in 2 seperate areas of the country, you from Texas by some chance or maybe Washington, D.C.?

  10. While it does seem a bit harsh to include OTC meds, All Rx meds should be registered and administered by a school nurse. If your child was injured / or overdosed a med by mistake, it is crucial as a parent to be able to have someone to hold accountable for it. Not just that. The first time your child came home with a handfull of hydrocodones, and told you they got them from a friend at school, who is the first person your going to call for action. Well this mean all meds need to be registered thru school administration.

    No before anyone ask I do not work for any educational facility 🙂

  11. Zero Tolerance is such a terrible policy no matter what way it is enacted. Where I live, there is a Zero Tolerance policy against weapons at the high school. A girl was recently expelled for bringing a butter knife in her packed lunch so that she could cut up an apple. Mr. Turley is absolutely correct when he points out what Zero Tolerance policies really are: zero judgment policies.

  12. Ironically, this child’s experience is an invaluable lesson in the extraordinary, primitive, brutal ignorance of contemporary America, a nation increasingly unfit to operate domestically and compete globally. Maybe someday she’ll be able to show her mentors her thanks.

  13. I would say that the current state of Appointed Federal Judges would uphold this schools zero tolerance code.

    The problem is that once the child is banned from this school and if the prosecutor takes it up, guess what? The student is no longer eligible for federal student loans or any other governmental assistance.

    Do you believe that this inane school rule is an over site of the government? I don’t.

  14. Fairfax County Public Schools require that all medications taken at school have a perscription attached. My daughter must take meds at lunch and we have to place them in bags and attach copies of the Rx to each bag.

    The problem is that FFX has been sued so many times by parents they are afraid to do anything that is not tied up in a bow and above criticism.

    The other issue is drug dealing at school, you can buy herbal suppliments that are in the old fashioned 2 part pill container and fill them with whatever drug you want.

    Personally it is a pain in the ass but I can see the school systems point. If you did not have some sort of control it would be chaos.

    My wife is a teacher and as she says “everyone is an educational expert and knows what is best for schools even though they have spent no time teaching at the primary and secondary levels”. That’s why Virginia has those ridiculous SOL’s.

    Although I will say the punishment was a bit harsh, just produce the Rx and be done with it.

  15. “I assume they are afraid of frivolous tort suits, like the one brought by the eight year old ice cream cone wielding student, aren’t they?”

    Sorry gnome you don’t get to play victim because some lawyer seeks to hold you accountable. The ice cream case will rise or fall on its own merit. Claiming victimhood for the school won’t work in this case. What you have is a government actor attempting to impair a constitutional right of a citizen in a capricious way using a robotic method because zero-tolerance is “easy.” I suggest a federal complaint seeking an injunction hearing and declaratory judgment to test the foolish policy.

  16. Please remember the unfunded inane federal mandate. “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.”

    The were and still are a lot of requirements that a school must adhere to.

    It appears common sense is not one of them. But then again, Is abstinence the preferred method of birth control for Pallin?

    Maybe after the talk show, she could give us teh virtues of virtual virtues and why it is not ok to take medication.

    But then again, since so many children take other(s) meds, should this not have been something between the school nurse and the student been more appropriate. Was the student grand standing, not that my child would ever, ever do such a thing. Yeah right.

    I see an Oak Tree rising.

  17. School boards have long been infected with a “one size fits all” mentality. Their greatest fear is that permitting teachers to exercise judgment and discretion in the application of policy will produce errors. What these sorts of cases tell us is that we prefer to deal with frequent absurdities rather than with occasional mistakes.

  18. I assume they are afraid of frivolous tort suits, like the one brought by the eight year old ice cream cone wielding student, aren’t they?

    A “modicum of common sense or judgment” did not protect that school. The tort lawyer charged ahead with the suit.

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