Birth-Control Pill Lands Fairfax Student 2-Week Suspension, Possible Expulsion – washingtonpost.com

Birth-Control Pill Lands Fairfax Student 2-Week Suspension, Possible Expulsion – washingtonpost.com
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 principals 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.

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