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December 5, 2003
Zero Tolerance = Zero Sense

Another bit of zero-tolerance nonsense, this time at a Louisiana high school:

A student expelled from Parkway High for a year for having Advil, an over-the-counter pain reliever, will not be allowed to return to the school.

Kelly Herpin and daughter Amanda Stiles, a sophomore, appealed the one-year expulsion to a Bossier Parish School Board committee Thursday night, spending about 10 minutes with the board's administrative committee behind closed doors. The committee and the full board voted unanimously to uphold an administrative decision that Stiles be expelled to the alternative school.

I understand the necessity of rules regarding medications for students on school grounds. The schools want to dispense the medications themselves so that they are not passed around. This makes perfect sense for prescription medication; it makes less sense for over-the-counter medication like Advil, which do not easily lend themselves to abuse. Even so, rules are rules, and Ms. Stiles should have followed them.

That being said, expelling an otherwise "average" student in discipline issues over having some Advil in her purse is a wild overreaction. Expelling students for possession of marijuana or other illegal substances may be a reasonable action to take. A week's detention, or even an in-school suspension, should have been more than sufficient. Why do school boards do this? Because they pass silly zero-tolerance rules that exempt them from rational thought, that's why.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 5, 2003 2:52 PM

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