Massachusetts Teenager Disciplined For Serving As Designated Driver For Drunken Classmate

13583350-smallWe have often discussed the increasing use of zero tolerance policies that allow administrators and teachers to shed any obligation for judgment or discretion. This is no more obvious than the bizarre case of Erin Cox. Cox did what most people would consider the responsible thing when called by a friend who was concerned that she had too much to drink: she agreed to serve as her designated driver. That act resulted in her discipline by North Andover High School, which is defending its decision to punish her as a technical violation of its alcohol policy.


The 17-year-old honor student was not drinking, mind you. She didn’t even actually drive her friend. When she arrived, the police were present and charged a few kids with drinking alcohol. They did not charge her. However, because she involved in an “alcohol-related incident” — even as someone trying to prevent it — she was demoted as volleyball team captain and suspended for five games.

Administrators and teachers refused to consider the obvious lunacy of this position and even fought to defend the action in court. The family went to court for some justice but was turned away on jurisdictional grounds. The family has accused the lawyer for the school of lying to the court about Cox being arrested.

Attorney Geoffrey Bok insisted that the school administrator were just doing the right thing and “really trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol.” What on Earth is principled about demoted a girl who was trying TO PREVENT drunk driving and avoid kids endangering themselves and others. It is neither principled nor logical. It is moronic and the demotions should have be applied to every administrator and teacher that signed off on this utter madness. This would presumably include Carla Scuzzarella, NAHS Principal.

The school policy states: “A student leader who is disciplined or involved in an incident involving alcohol/drugs (controlled substance) violation at ANY TIME, including summer vacation, will lose his/her leadership position in addition to any other consequences.”

In order to achieve this ignoble end, the school had to ignore the obvious meaning of “involved” and “involving” as substantive criteria. To be involved, denotes a substantive and knowing role. Likewise, “involving” refers to the “incident.” The incident for Cox was driving a friend to avoid drunk driving — not an alcohol violation or party. That is why she was not charged. She should have been commended — something an attorney like Bok might have explained to his clients.

The punishment for taking action to protect a classmate and others is a curious choice since the school was criticized recently for a new policy to repel armed attackers. The policy includes a provision to “confront” attackers that remains controversial. Apparently, confronting armed attackers is perfectly permissible but giving a ride to a classmate to avoid a drunk driving incident and possible accident is a violation of school policy.

The proper outcome should be clear. The discipline needs to be rescinded against Cox and discipline proceedings begun for the administrators and teachers responsible for her abusive treatment.

Source: Syracuse

50 thoughts on “Massachusetts Teenager Disciplined For Serving As Designated Driver For Drunken Classmate”

  1. Relative to the domestic micro- film, which exudes a few pieces of Western style micro- film to bring you a different feeling ? At least this beautiful and romantic atmosphere thick , not just be able to get the next two . Isabel ‘s cake gave us the impulse to want to get married , then looked Cartier love micro movies, you want to marry him or is it the urge to marry him ?

  2. If one reads the full test of the schools website, one can easily see that this student should be commended rather than condemned. The school personel involved in this decision should thoroughly examine their decision and give this student a commendation for achieving the hghest degree of achievement according to school core values, beliefs, and learning expectations. (See below)
    I would hire this girl before any of the school administrators. She is a real, authentic American and Human Being. She seems to be living what the school is attempting (and cetainly not modeling) to teach.

    The students and faculty at Andover High School challenge each other every day to think critically and achieve at the highest level possible. Our school environment encourages risk-taking and exploration. We value respect for one another and promote individuality and a sense of community.

    Core Values and Beliefs and Learning Expectations

    Andover High School is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and equitable learning environment where students and staff alike lead by example, demonstrating collaboration, intellectual curiosity, effective communication, and real world application of skills. We believe that promoting physical fitness, extracurricular activities, and student-led initiatives cultivates active minds and fosters school pride. We believe strongly in a challenging and diverse curriculum that encourages the creativity, innovation and risk-taking necessary to succeed in a global community.

    3: Academic Expectation– Think critically and creatively to evaluate and solve problems
    Social Expectations For Students Learning

    Students as AHS are expected to…
    7) act with respect, integrity, and compassion.
    8) make informed decisions regarding the health and well-being of themselves and others.

  3. The following is my missive to Mr. Hutchins at his email address above

    Dear Superintendent Hutchins.

    The following is a link to a discussion of the above referenced matter [Massachusetts Teenager Disciplined For Serving As Designated Driver For Drunken Classmate] on the law blog of Jonathan Turley —

    http://jonathanturley.org/2013/10/16/massachusetts-teenager-disciplined-for-serving-as-designated-driver-for-drunken-classmate/#more-70930.

    The following is the posting of leejcaroll’s comment as of 5:34 p.m. of October 17, 2013 in response to your on-line letter concerning the matter:

    “The rules for student-athletes strongly discourage students from engaging in conduct that is unlawful or fails to promote the health and safety of the youth in our community.”

    This girl’s decision to be the designated driver certainly promoted health and safety.

    Sir, leejcaroll is right and you are wrong. You have not done right by this young lady. Make it right. Be an example.

    Oro Lee

    1. OroLee ((*_*)) I sent him an email using the address listed by you but, surprise, I have received no reply.(If I do Ill let you all know what he said but I imagine he was probably inundated with emails, hopefully most from folks irate.)

  4. To add to that thought. The school has made it clear there will be negative consequences for doing the right thing and promoting safety. So how will Dr. Hutchinson explain it to parents and the community when somebody dies or is crippled for life because the school has made doing the right thing unsafe for a kid’s academic career.

    This is on a par with those cases where a kid was arrested or expelled for reporting finding a gun or knife.

  5. AY,
    If your “BS” comment was directed at Dr. Hutchinson’s statement, I must say I agree.

  6. “The rules for student-athletes strongly discourage students from engaging in conduct that is unlawful or fails to promote the health and safety of the youth in our community.”
    This girl’s decision to be the designated driver certainly promoted health and safety.

  7. “Over the past few days, North Andover High School, its Administration and athletic program, have been the subject of scrutiny and criticism over a student discipline decision that the High School Administration made relative to one of our student athletes. Although we have been asked by several media outlets to respond to the allegations made against North Andover High School, our practice is to not comment on matters involving student discipline. This approach is consistent with state and federal laws that prohibit the disclosure of confidential student record information.

    “Nevertheless, without commenting on any particular case, we want to clarify information about our disciplinary process and the policies and practices that our Administration follows. The rules for student-athletes strongly discourage students from engaging in conduct that is unlawful or fails to promote the health and safety of the youth in our community. We do not have a “zero tolerance policy.” Each incident is fully investigated and decided upon based on the individual facts and circumstances. Our administrators are tasked with applying the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) rules pertaining to student-athletes and alcohol in a consistent and fair manner. To be clear, the MIAA’s, and by extension North Andover High School’s, “chemical health rule” prohibits student-athletes from possessing alcohol, in addition to prohibiting its use, consumption, or distribution.

    “While some may decry the Administration’s actions as unfair or inconsistent with the principles of due process, our Administration wholeheartedly disagrees. To be clear, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that participation in interscholastic athletics is a privilege. Rather than simply revoking the privilege, our Administration has consistently afforded its student-athletes a reasonable opportunity to be heard before a disciplinary decision is made.

    “Although the news coverage has at times cast North Andover High School in a negative light, I continue to be proud of the excellent education our students receive at North Andover High School, the professionalism of the staff, and the fine character of the student body.”

    Dr. Kevin Hutchinson
    Superintendent of Schools
    hutchinsonk@northandover.k12.ma.us

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