The 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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