Middle Schooler Suspended For Bringing Acne Medication To School

A typical middle school girl, 13-year-old Hayley Russell was worried about another acne flare-up when she brought her orange prescription bottle to Rachel Carson Middle School in Fairfax County, Virginia.

She placed the erythromycin on the top shelf of her locker so she could retrieve an antibiotic pill to take at lunch. And then she forgot about it.

The pills sat in her locker for months. When an administrator confronted her about them last May, acting on a tip from other girls, Hayley quickly acknowledged her mistake. But it triggered a disciplinary process that kept her out of class for more than seven weeks, banned her from even visiting Carson without official permission, and eventually forced her to transfer to another school.

Seven Weeks’ Suspension For Acne Medication?

For Hayley, the episode added a new layer of anguish to the social upheavals of middle school. Rumors churned wildly, with false accusations and painful insults about what she did to get into so much trouble. “Preggo,” a classmate wrote on her Facebook wall. “Druggie,” texted another.

Problems With Fairfax Schools’ Discipline Approach

From The Washington Post:

Hayley’s experience — as reflected in interviews and school records provided by her family — follows a pattern reported by parents in at least 18 other cases in Fairfax: Students get ousted from school for a month, two months, or longer if an appeal is filed. They go to disciplinary hearings expecting impartial reviews and find instead what they consider an adversarial process. For many, consequences include school transfers that cut off social connections and upend academics.

The Fairfax discipline system is under increasing scrutiny after Nick Stuban, a 15-year-old football player, committed suicide on Jan. 20 amid the fallout of an infraction at W.T. Woodson High School. The school board will begin a review of discipline policies Monday.

Fairfax schools spokesman Paul Regnier said the school system interprets state law as requiring Hayley to be suspended and recommended for expulsion because she possessed a controlled substance, which includes prescription medication.

Really? There’s No Difference Between Marijuana And Acne Medication?

In Fairfax, Hayley’s case went to a hearing and her suspension was prolonged because it occurred near the end of a school year, when the small staff in the hearing office is particularly busy.

Virginia law says school boards “shall expel” students for having controlled substances, marijuana or imitation drugs at school or a school activity. But it also says special circumstances may be considered and other consequences given by school boards or through a superintendent’s designee.

At Hayley’s hearing in May, administrators reported that there was no indication that Hayley had distributed the pills, no sign of abuse and no police charges filed, according to 10 pages of notes taken by a schools employee.

The 13-Year-Old Put The Safety Of Other Students At Risk

The disciplinary ruling that arrived the second week of June said Hayley “willfully and deliberately possessed and consumed prescription medication at school, knowing that her actions were in violation of school rules.” It said she “put the safety and well-being of other students and staff at risk.”

After being suspended for seven weeks, 13-year-old Hayley was transferred to another middle school, another victim of zero tolerance bureaucracy pushed to its nonsensical limits.

According to the Washington Post, Fairfax schools’ discipline is under scrutiny after this incident. Let’s hope some good can come out of this miscarriage of justice.

Related Story:

Seventh Grader Suspended For Touching Pill

Photo credit: Charles Williams via Creative Commons

194 comments

Tracy D.
Tracy DeLaughter4 years ago

" Now what we have here is Child Abuse by Authority Figure."* Each and every adult that has had any contact with this child or her case should be arrested, booked, cavity searched and thrown in jail for at least seven weeks before being arraigned or allowed bail.

Let the punishment fit the crime.

Hayle's crime- Taking medicine prescribed by her doctor on school property for her well being. Good thing she was not an azmatic.

Fairfax Schools "Brute Squad"** crime- Emotional and physical abuse with trama by torture of psychological means.

We teach kids to be fair with their actions and reactions but as adults we do not do what we say therefore we lead to a conflict in the social value system that we have set up to only provide power to us and not to the kids.

Gee I wonder why the kids show no respect these days to their elders or the laws. Go figure.

*- Paraphrased from "Cool Hand Luke"
**- From "Princess Bride"

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Haitham H.
Past Member 5 years ago


Wonderful post
. A lot of useful information here. I'm sending it to a
few
pals ans additionally sharing in
delicious. And of course, thank you in your
sweat!

SEND
Haitham H.
Past Member 5 years ago


Wonderful post
. A lot of useful information here. I'm sending it to a
few
pals ans additionally sharing in
delicious. And of course, thank you in your
sweat!

SEND
Haitham H.
Past Member 5 years ago


Wonderful post
. A lot of useful information here. I'm sending it to a
few
pals ans additionally sharing in
delicious. And of course, thank you in your
sweat!

SEND
jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago

We're getting silly!

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Jami Winn
Jami Winn5 years ago

its not like its meth or heroine i mean its acne meds for crying out loud

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Grace Johnson
Grace Johnson5 years ago

can we say overreaction?

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 .
.5 years ago

The teacher that started all this should be beaten , the entire diciplinary committee fired and she should sue the school. This is exactly the type of overreaction that makes the US legal and so called justice system the laughing stock of the world.

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Kim J.
Kimberly J5 years ago

Don Cordell, school administrators, not the teacher decide on a student's punishment. States and school districts who make these no tolerance rules need to have their heads examined. Administrators who are incapable of using common sense need to find different jobs.

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Don Cordell
Donald Cordell5 years ago

These are the teachers you want to give higher pay? Look at our education system, look at the failures, what are our children learning? That our government is always right, that our Bill of Rights are out of date.
NO Free Speech (other than here) NO Guns, NO Rights to refuse to be searched, NO Rights, incriminate yourself in court. Contempt of Court until you confess, NO Rights to speedy trial and to confront your accuser, Habeus Corpus cancelled by the 2006 War Commissions Act.
Citizens our Rights are gone.
In California Code Enforcement officers arrive with guns drawn to demand the right to search your home no Warrants,
to make sure your home is in compliance with housing laws. What has happened to our nation?
Congress, Who elected Congress? YOU did
We must ReVote in America, and replace the PARTY. We must elect Patriots who want to protect our nation.
Congress has the duty to protect our borders and IMPORTS. They have done neither. Why have manufacturers left the nation? Because they can produce their product in foreign nations with NO environmental regulations.
Do you want to ReStore our nation, ReCover our economy, to have America the Beautiful again.
I'm an 84 years old Patriot that is running as an Independent candidate for President, I live on SS, no millions, do you want a Millionaire running our nation, or a citizen that worked at honest jobs for 50 years, who will use Common Sense to run our nation for YOU. Google "DonCordellforPresident"

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