Other Talk "Otterville" plus Religion/Politics

Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Old 04-07-09, 08:44 AM
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Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

10 day suspension, possible expulsion for taking a (prescribed) birth control pill (with parental permission) at lunch at school. The best part? If she had been caught high on LSD or heroin, she would've been suspended 5 days.

When a Fairfax County mother got an urgent call from school last month reporting that her teenage daughter was caught popping a pill at lunchtime, she did not panic. "It was probably her birth-control pill," she thought. She was right.

Her heart dropped that afternoon in the assistant principal's office at Oakton High School when she and her daughter heard the mandatory punishment: A two-week suspension and recommendation for expulsion.

"I realize my daughter broke a rule," the mother said. But in an appeal to the school system, she reasoned, "the punishment does not fit the crime."

For two decades, many schools have set zero-tolerance policies on drugs. That means no over-the-counter drugs, no prescription drugs, no pretend drugs in student lockers or pockets. When many teens have ready access to medicine cabinets filled with prescription medications such as Xanax and Vicodin, any capsule or tablet is suspect.

Still, some parents and civil rights advocates say enforcement has been overzealous. Stringent rules have ensnared not only drug dealers and abusers, but a host of sniffling and headachy students seeking quick medical relief. The Supreme Court will consider this month the case of a 13-year-old Arizona student who was strip-searched in 2003 by an administrator who suspected that she was carrying ibuprofen pills.

Fairfax School Board members have debated over time whether to allow students to carry Tylenol or other over-the-counter medicines without registering them with the school nurse. County policy permits cough drops to be carried on campus, for instance, but not shared. Arlington County policies permit high school students to carry over-the-counter pain relievers. A 2006 state law in Maryland overturned some local rules requiring a doctor's note for children to use sunscreen at school.

In Virginia, school systems must comply with state code regarding prescription medications and illegal drugs on campus. Students face expulsion if they bring to school any "controlled substance" or addictive drug regulated by the federal government. "Imitation controlled substances," which could include virtually any prescription pill, are subject to the same hefty repercussions. Local school boards can give a lighter punishment after a review.

In Maryland, school systems have more leeway to set their own drug policies. In the District, prescription medications should be confiscated if they are brought to school without a doctor's order, Dena Iverson, a spokeswoman for the school system, wrote in an e-mail.

Health advocates say that harsh penalties for students who take birth-control pills at school conflicts with a campaign schools are waging against teen pregnancy.

A small portion of school health clinics across the country distribute birth-control pills to teens. But in Fairfax, even carrying the pills in a backpack is counted among the most serious offenses in the Student Responsibilities and Rights handbook.

During two weeks of watching television game shows and trying to keep up with homework online, the Fairfax teen, an honor student and lettered athlete, had time to study the handbook closely. If she had been caught high on LSD, heroin or another illegal drug, she found, she would have been suspended for five days. Taking her prescribed birth-control pill on campus drew the same punishment as bringing a gun to school would have.

The teenager and her mother declined to have their names published. But they showed The Washington Post some of her discipline records, including a letter that asked the school board to reinstate the student and reexamine the regulations so students would not "needlessly suffer" in the future.

School officials say they can't take chances. They are concerned about liability and safety. Any pills, even nonprescription pills, could be shared with another student who has allergies. And it would be difficult to enforce rules if students were allowed to take some pills but not others.

"Most people would not know the difference between birth control or some Ritalin or Tylenol or codeine," said Clarence Jones, coordinator for the Fairfax school system's safe and drug-free youth program. "If they are just pulling something out of their pockets and sticking it in their mouths, we don't know what they are taking."

Jones said the rules allow appeals and a hearing, so special circumstances can be considered.

Deb Hauser of Advocates for Youth, a District-based organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health, said, "To put birth control in the same category as illegal drugs or handguns stigmatizes responsible behavior."

In a 2008 survey, a little more than a quarter of Fairfax teenagers, and 44 percent of 12th-graders, reported that they were sexually active. That was lower than the national average. About 10 percent of those who were sexually active said they had not used contraception the last time they had sex.

The teenager said she started taking birth-control pills over the summer, a decision made with her mother, her boyfriend and a doctor. The pill is supposed to be taken at the same time every day. So when school started in the fall, she kept up with her daily routine during school hours.

According to school policies, her pills should have been kept in the school clinic. But the student said she did not see the logic in making a special trip to see the nurse, a relative stranger, each day during her 25-minute lunch break. She preferred to take the pill on her own. She tried to be discreet but she got caught.

The teenager and her mother maintain that the decision to take birth-control pills is personal. Now that private choice has been shared with her principal and many teachers. On Thursday, a long table full of school officials weighed her case at a hearing.

While the student awaits a decision on whether she will be expelled, she said she has learned one major lesson: It's important "to read the fine print."
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Old 04-07-09, 09:07 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

The rule is ridiculous and her punishment should be reconsidered. However, this isn't a case where the student claims to not have known what she was doing was wrong. She knew the rule and didn't follow ut because she didn't want to go to the nurse's office to get her medication, because it was less convenient.

That being said, "no tolerance" policies are lazy and ineffective.

Last edited by Bandoman; 04-07-09 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:09 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Deb Hauser of Advocates for Youth, a District-based organization that focuses on adolescent sexual health, said, "To put birth control in the same category as illegal drugs or handguns stigmatizes responsible behavior."
she obviously didn't understand the situation, as they are not putting birth control in the same category as illegal drugs, as per the article.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:10 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

I haven't tolerated Bandoman in years.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:14 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
I haven't tolerated Bandoman in years.

I've always said you were lazy and ineffective.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:25 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

she can't take the birth control pill in the morning or after school? i agree these zero tolerance policies are ridiculous, but sometimes the people breaking said policy is just as stupid.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:28 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by Bandoman View Post
I've always said you were lazy and ineffective.
Now I remember why I haven't tolerated you.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:29 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Yeah I can see both ways. The policy is stupid, but even if she started taking it during the day, lets say during the summer, she could now start at night, and her body would adapt.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:30 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by VinVega View Post
I haven't tolerated Bandoman in years.
good thing you haven't caught him popping pills...
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Old 04-07-09, 09:31 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Geez. And they wonder why kids go nuts and shoot up their schools. They might as well be spending their days in prison.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:36 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Stupid girl, and stupid school system. They are both retarded here.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:46 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Maybe it was an act of rebellion. At least she has the excuse of being a teenager.

The thing is, I am positive that this "zero tolerance" is NOT keeping anyone from doing any drugs they want. Unless they install surveillance cameras all over the school, including in the restrooms, dopers can still get their doses.
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Old 04-07-09, 09:49 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by stingermck View Post
Yeah I can see both ways. The policy is stupid, but even if she started taking it during the day, lets say during the summer, she could now start at night, and her body would adapt.
people that age are dumb

one time when i was 19 i gave someone a few of my tylenol 3 w/codeine pills because they had a headache or something. if some kid gets sick and has to go to the ER the same whiny parents will blame and sue the school
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Old 04-07-09, 09:51 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Death penalty. Now.
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Old 04-07-09, 10:01 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

I'm not understanding why the legal drug carries a harsher punishment than the illegal drugs...
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Old 04-07-09, 10:20 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by Deftones View Post
she can't take the birth control pill in the morning or after school?

That's what I was wondering. Now if it has to be taken mid-day with lunch, if I were the parent (and didn't want the nurse/school involved, which I think is understandable), I'd just tell my kid to go into the bathroom right before lunch and pop the pill in private.

Regardless, these zero tolerance suspensions are pretty stupid.

Last edited by Red Dog; 04-07-09 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 04-07-09, 10:22 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

School officials say they can't take chances. They are concerned about liability and safety. Any pills, even nonprescription pills, could be shared with another student who has allergies. And it would be difficult to enforce rules if students were allowed to take some pills but not others.
So the schools make legal activities that might be mistaken for criminal activities "the most serious offenses in the Student Responsibilities and Rights handbook." That's absurd.

Would this sort of rule be tolerated in society at large? How would people react if a policeman said, "You can't park your car in the bank parking lot. It's not easy to distinguish you from a bank robber parking a getaway car. Put your hands on the hood of the car."
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Old 04-07-09, 10:25 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by chuckd21 View Post
I'm not understanding why the legal drug carries a harsher punishment than the illegal drugs...
I'm guessing that someone forgot to update the rules about illegal drugs when the zero tolerance rules were written. I'm sure they'll be made consistent as soon as possible, by making the penalty harsher.

The war on drugs does have a ratcheting effect.
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Old 04-07-09, 10:34 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

I had no idea that schools were banning prescription drugs and aspirin. How can sane people come up with such nonsense?
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Old 04-07-09, 10:44 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by kitkat View Post
I had no idea that schools were banning prescription drugs and aspirin. How can sane people come up with such nonsense?
They aren't banned. You are able to take your medication to the clinic, and if/when you need them, you go to the clinic. This way you are only taking the medication you are supposed to, and not sharing any medication with others.
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Old 04-07-09, 10:46 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
The war on drugs does have a ratcheting effect.
I am guessing this has nothing to do with the "war on drugs", and instead has to do with school liability.
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Old 04-07-09, 10:48 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

I went to this school, graduated back in 2001, and I can tell you this has always been the policy and everyone knew it. I'm not saying that the school/county is right in their reasoning, but rules are rules.
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Old 04-07-09, 11:18 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Birth control pills... girls take 'em cause they like to f*ck
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Old 04-07-09, 11:25 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Originally Posted by Mrs. Danger View Post
The thing is, I am positive that this "zero tolerance" is NOT keeping anyone from doing any drugs they want. Unless they install surveillance cameras all over the school, including in the restrooms, dopers can still get their doses.
Exactly. This is another rule that only punishes people who aren't doing anything wrong. When I was in high school we had this same policy and it never worked. The only time anyone ever got suspended under it was for taking an aspirin or a Pepto or something. They never caught any of the people who were taking Valium all the time or the people who would go to the bathroom to smoke a joint.
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Old 04-07-09, 11:34 AM
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Re: Zero Tolerance strikes again, part 2.3 million

Pics? [/de rigeur]
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