Student Suspension Overturned 1/9/98

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-Peter Kempner for DRCNet

On Jan. 7, 1998 the Fairfax County Virginia School Board reversed itself and rescinded the five-day suspension, and a thirty-day suspension from extracurricular activites, of a twelve year-old student on charges of possession of drugs. The suspension, originally imposed under the school's "zero-tolerance" policy, had so angered the girl's family that they had retained an attorney to fight it. In the end, the charges were dropped at a hearing presided over by Don P. Sheldon the school districts Area I superintendent. In his decision Sheldon wrote "Because of her otherwise unblemished disciplinary record, her good academic record, and the particular facts involved, I have decided to clear Nicole of this charge and not impose any disciplinary action." The offending substance? Advil.

The school policy under which the suspension was originally imposed makes no differentiation between illegal drugs such and legal medications. In addition, Regulation 2102.3, which describes the types of "nonprescription drug not authorized as medication" includes "aspirin, Tylenol, gargles, ear drops, eye washes, ointments, Pepto-Bismol, cough suppressants and the like." The attorney for the student told the Washington Post, "We're not disputing the regulation in regard to illegal drugs, or even prescription medications ... We're talking about the fact that school officials are interpreting the policy to cover all kinds of ... products. From that standpoint, a student could never know what is right or wrong."

The incident which brought on the charges took place on a school bus when another girl asked the student whether she had something for a headache. The student pulled a small bottle of Advil from her bag, but remembering school policy against handing out medications, decided not to give the pills to her schoolmate. It was too late, however, as the bus driver had seen the bottle and promptly reported it to school authorities.

(Read about similar incidents and other youth issues in issue #1 of Highlights from the Week Online, at

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Issue #24, 1/9/98 A Look Ahead at 1998 | War on Patients to Escalate: Federal Government Announces Plan to Raid Cannabis Buyers' Clubs | DRCNet Exclusive!! British Euro-MP's Ordered by Blair to Vote Against Commission Recommendations for EU Drug Policy | Ann Landers, Anthony Lewis Trash Drug War: DRCNet subscribers are urged to respond! | Candle Correction | Giuliani Pledges a "Drug Free New York" | Heroin in New England -- Cheaper, Purer Than Ever | Federal Anti-Drug Ad Campaign to Hit Airwaves | America "Works With" Her International Partner | US Counternarcotics Base to Replace Air Force Base When Panama Canal is Turned Over | Signature Drive Underway for Industrial Hemp Ballot Initiative in California | UK: Home Secretary's Son Found Dealing Cannabis, Legaliation Debate Rages | Australian Cops: "Policign is not the Answer" | "Smoke a Joint, Lose a Limb?:" Pending Mississippi Bill Threatens Dismemberment For Convicted Drug Violators | Student Suspension Overturned | Jury Nullification Ballot Initiative in California | Job Opportunity at DPF | Editorial: A "Drug Free New York?" C'mon Rudy
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