It all happened on February 23 at River Valley Middle School in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Seventh grader Rachel Greer was in the locker room during fifth period gym class when a fellow student walked in with a bag of pills.
“She was talking to another girl and me about them and she put one in my hand and I was like, ‘I don’t want this,’ so I put it back in the bag and I went to gym class,” said Rachel. The pills were the prescription ADHD drug, Adderall, and after years of training under the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, Rachel knew she had to “Just Say No.”
But that wasn’t the end of it. During sixth period, an assistant principal came and took Rachel out of class. It turned out that the girl who originally had the pills and a few other students got caught. Then came the shocker: “We’re suspending you for five days because it was in your hand,” the administrator told Rachel. Apparently he told the girl that he was very sorry he had to do it, but the rules are the rules. District officials later said that if they’re not strict about drug policies no one will take them seriously.
What lesson can Rachel learn here? Because she said NO to illegal drugs and told the complete truth about what happened in the locker room, she was punished. Presumably she would also have been punished if she had said YES, so maybe next time she’ll choose that route.
What does it take for school administrators to use some common sense? A policy, zero tolerance or any other, is a guideline. Every situation is different, and school officials need to be able to approach each situation individually, and make an appropriate decision, based on the relevant facts.
After hearing the news, Patty Greer, Rachel’s mother, went to school officials to complain. “That’s not a good policy,” Greer said. “We’re teaching our kids if you say no to drugs you’re going to get punished; it’s not right.”
District officials were not impressed. Martin Bell, COO of Greater Clark County Schools, replied that the girl should not have put out her hand. “Someone hands them a pill or a drug or something like that and they say well I said no I didn’t participate. Well the act of saying no is not to be there, not to be involved in the handling the, you know, they didn’t have to put their hand out.” (In case you’re wondering, I am quoting Mr. Bell verbatim here.)
According to Greater Clark County Schools district policy, even a touch equals drug possession and a one week suspension. Wanna get a five-day vacation from school? Just say no, and get yourself suspended!
And this just in: When Mason Jammer, a kindergarten student at Jefferson Elementary in Ionia, Michigan, curled his fist into the shape of a gun Wednesday and pointed it at another student, school officials suspended the 6-year-old until Friday, saying the behavior made other students uncomfortable. Really? Couldn’t the school find any other way to teach Mason not to make a gun with his hand? When will this madness stop?
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