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No-Pill Tolerance Rules

The scenario presented in The Washington Post over the weekend is fairly simple: Teenage girl takes a birth control pill at lunchtime in a Fairfax County High School. Girl gets caught. Girl gets a two-week suspension along with a recommendation for expulsion. Why such a harsh punishment for a prescribed medication? The girl violated Fairfax's zero-tolerance drug policy.

The story raises all sorts of questions of trust as well as rule-breaking by kids. And it raises questions of common sense.

Yes, the girl in question could have taken her pills at home either before or after school on a regular basis and chose not to. That was clearly a bad decision. And it's predictable that readers will make judgments about the girl and her mother based on the kind of medicine the girl was caught ingesting.

So, let's turn the tables a bit and create the same scenario with different medicines:

Scenario One: Girl gets caught taking over-the-counter ibuprofen at lunch. Mom knows that the girl has the medicine.

Scenario Two: Girl gets caught giving herself her asthma inhaler, violating school rules because inhalers are only allowed to be administered by the nurse.

Scenario Three: Girl gets caught injecting an epi-pen dose after suffering an unexpected allergic reaction. Again, following school rules, epi-pens need to be administered by the nurse.

Scenario Four: Girl has a bacterial infection and needs to take antibiotics in the middle of the day. She carries them with her instead of bringing them to the school nurse.

Zero-tolerance drug policies make sense theoretically. After all, how could a school with 600 to 1,000 students -- the size of some high schools in the Washington region -- possibly keep track of kids popping acceptable pills versus those taking illegal drugs? Plus, implementing such rules limits schools' liability. But there's a basis for these types of rules that's bothersome, and that's one of trust. The adults who have made and implemented these rules do not trust kids. The assumption automatically goes toward the child being wrong versus having a good reason for taking a medication.

That's what I find most troubling about such situations as this and a 13-year-old girl who was strip-searched after an assistant principal suspected her of bringing prescription-strength ibuprofen to school. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in that case later this month.

Do you think that all medications at school should be administered via the school nurse? Do you see this as an issue of trust or simply one of a teenager testing her limits on a known high school rule? Should punishments be the same for teens who violate the no-drug laws regardless of the medicine and/or drugs in question?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Discipline , Health
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Comments


Fairfax is crazy on so many levels about this, the invasion of privacy, public humiliation of the girl, inability to distinguish between normal medications and drugs. I thank God I have no children in school these days.

Posted by: observer42 | April 7, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Agree with observer42. My kids are just reaching school-age. Can't wait.

Posted by: CentreofNowhere | April 7, 2009 7:48 AM | Report abuse

Zero tolerance rules are there for a reason... Because the instant you begin to apply "reason" over the circumstances of this student versus that student, the rule becomes meaningless and subject to campus politics and favoritism and whose daddy is a big man in town...

As far as throwing in the issue of the Epipen and an acute allergic reaction... No acute allergy happens so quickly that the student does not have time to run for the office where the meds are stored...

dr. o

Posted by: ad4hk2004 | April 7, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

The 133 comments to the WaPo article more than answer Stacey's questions...

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 7, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Any administrator who made this kind of mistake with one of my daughters would probably be dead before he hit the floor. *I* have ZERO tolerance for someone interfering with my daughters' personal medical needs!

The school systems these days are out of control, with the political correctness crap; lockers that are too small for students' needs, and ill-advised policies that do nothing but set teachers and parents against administration, and parents against teachers. The whole system is getting to the point where it needs to be chucked and re-built from the ground, up.

Posted by: egb67 | April 7, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

While I strongly disagree about the EpiPen and asthma inhaler comment above (think about a student in gym class stung by a bee while playing softball), the ZT policy on around medications is, unfortunately, the best policy. Take the OTC ibufrofen example - how does anyone know that it is not a more potent drug such as oxycontin? What happens when a friend asks to borrow something for a headache and they have a reaction to the pill you give them? Teachers and principals are not medical professionals skilled in the use of a PDR.

Do I like the rules? Not especially, but do I understand them? Yes, and it has not ever been an issue in the 17 years that we have had children in FCPS. Why don't parents read the SR&R instead of simply signing it and make sure that their children know what it means. Everyone is up in arms about these policies which have existed for years and my sense is that we are hearing about the BCP issue and Josh Anderson's suicide because someone is doing better PR.

If the programs are so outlandish, draconian or out of touch, why don't we see a unified parent group started to force the SB to respond and make changes? This was very effective recently with both SLEEP and Fairgrade. The argument that FCPS will target anyone who complains reeks of cowardice. What lesson are you teaching your children if that is what you believe? Acquiescence equals acceptance!

Posted by: skipper7 | April 7, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Zero-tolerance is a sign of zero-brains. And we've never accused our school system of having any brains!

Posted by: snowbucks | April 7, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

We had supposedly zero-tolerance rules even when I was in high school in the early 90's. You were supposed to take any and all meds to the nurse. However, my school was pretty small (only 500 or so kids), and everyone knew everyone else, pretty much. I knew if I had a headache or something and had no tylenol actually at school in the nurse's office, I could just ask my English teacher for some and she'd give it to me. She knew I wasn't abusing it. OTOH, a girl 3 lockers down from me kept codine cough syrup in her locker and took swigs between clasees.

ZT policies aren't going to keep kids from doing illegal drugs. But, may keep some kids from passing out their perscription of Ritalin, which is what they are after. Generally, though, automatic punishment without thought has never been shown to be very effective.

Posted by: Mazarin | April 7, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies. They are, and always have been, stupid. Even zero tolerance policies on 'weapons' are stupid. I recall the girl who accidentally took her mother's lunch to school, which contained an apple and a paring knife to peel it with. Upon discovering it she immediately reported it to her teacher. Her reward for such responsible action - immediate expulsion. (I believe she was later reinstated after an appeal.) She never should have been expelled in the first place. Reason and considered judgment are wonderful things. We really should exercise them.
~jon

Posted by: jstro | April 7, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Dumb, dumb, dumb. Another reason to homeschool I suppose. The authorities claim they know what's best for kids, but then they get them in such big groups that they need these brainless rules to keep everyone in check.

I don't know what kind of Dr. Dr. O is, but some allergies DON'T leave students time to stroll down to the nurse's office for meds. Hard to do if you can't breathe. I always thought acute meant a sudden onset of a condition. This is why nobody's allowed to eat a peanut at lunch these days. Some folks could die if they aren't given the epipen right away. Add that to the fact that some schools no longer employ a full time nurse....

I'd rather the 17 year old remember to take that pill than for her to skip it and turn up pregnant in two months.

Posted by: catweasel3 | April 7, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Why not take ZT to every work place. Why not apply to rules of the road. It does not take too many applications of ZT to realize how ridiculous it is. We have brains and the ability to use them. If administrators and teachers are too cowardly to make an obvious decision with out consulting a lawyer why should students have to take responsibility when the whole purpose of ZT is for adults to avoid responsibility.

Posted by: vwallen@bellatlantic.net | April 7, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Especially by high school, I believe the student and their family have a right to privacy in not disclosing to the nurse (and therefore having it in their school records) what types of medicines they are taking. Some sorts of things are very embarrassing to admit you take, especially for a 16, 17, 18 year old, and could effect a student's social standing with their peers, or how they are viewed by the teachers and treated overall in school, if discovered. It should be up to the parents and the student whether they want the school to know about their child's medications. How about allowing the kids to carry doctor's notes instead or something, thereby keeping their *private* medical conditions the way they should be--between the child, the parents, and the doctors.

Posted by: Eleiana | April 7, 2009 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Umm, whatever happened to common sense?

Posted by: ishgebibble | April 7, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Umm, whatever happened to common sense?

Posted by: ishgebibble
_____

It's extremely uncommon...

Posted by: VaLGaL | April 7, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

My 11-y-o takes Focalin for ADHD, and he takes it before school. But I have already begun discussing with him that he should a) not discuss his medication with his friends, and b) he should NEVER give any of his pills to anyone. I figure I'd better start now, so by the time he's in HS he knows what to do.

DD - in 10th grade at a VERY large Prince George's HS - occasionally carries ibuprofen to school and I have no issues with that. But again, she knows not to advertise the fact. Should girls have to go to the nurse for medication to ease menstrual cramps??? Just tell everyone I HAVE MY PERIOD!!! Talk about embarassing.

Posted by: lorenw507 | April 7, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

The 133 comments to the WaPo article more than answer Stacey's questions...

Posted by: jezebel

Typical Jezebel comment, weak snark and no substance.

Posted by: anonymous_one | April 7, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"Reason and considered judgment are wonderful things. We really should exercise them."

Amen. I have no problem with a policy that says medicines should be kept with the nurse but I think when a teacher or administrator bumps into a situation like this, they should use good judgment and let the matter go! Is there room for bias, for error, sure. But I'd rather invite people to use their good judgment than expect them to act like automatons. Why pay teachers or school principals for having an advanced degree if a robot could do the same job?

Posted by: annenh | April 7, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Typical Jezebel comment, weak snark and no substance.


Posted by: anonymous_one | April 7, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse


LOL! This blog is loaded with substance!

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 7, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

The "Zero Tolerance" on medication seems about as effective as the "No Touch" policy last week. We don't live in a black and white world, there's a lot of gray. It's important to teach kids about how to handle that gray in age appropriate increments throughout their lives.

Furthermore, anyone who thinks that it's a good idea to deny an asthmatic from carrying Albuterol inhaler is looking for a lawsuit. Does it sound like a good idea to have a person who is having trouble breathing RUN to the nurses office? Epi-pens are meant for immediate use, then the affected person is supposed to seek medical help. Users of oral contraceptives should try and take them at the same time everyday. If that girl ate lunch at the same time everyday, then that's a good time for her. If she checks it into the nurse, then forget to pick it up on a Friday, she's screwed. Really, Neosporin & Ibuprofin?!

Posted by: MzFitz | April 7, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

I was a Fairfax county student from K-12, graduating in the 90s. The drug policies and punishments in place were patently ludicrous even to the seventh graders subject to them. The bad kids were not deterred in the slightest and the good kids lived in fear of situations like the paring knife in the lunch that jstro mentioned- what college is going to accept you with a recommendation for expulsion on your record?

Thankfully I went to Jefferson, where (in my era) trust in the students reigned supreme and idiotic policies like this were blithely disregarded in favor of common sense. Once a girl actually took medication *in class* *in front of the teacher* and the incident passed... without incident, as it were.

Posted by: hayesap8 | April 7, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"After all, how could a school with 600 to 1,000 students -- the size of some high schools in the Washington region -"

I'm sorry, but other than some private schools, where in the Washington region do you find a high school this SMALL?

Howard County high schools have target enrollments of 1300 - 1600.

Montgomery County county schools average almost 1,800 students each, and Montgomery Blair is close to 3,000. Fairfax County high schools appear to average close to 1,700 students each.

"600 to 1000" would be an extremely small public high school around here.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | April 7, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Zero tolerance policies are stupid.

If anyone read the original article, the student that is facing expulsion read the handbook and realized that if she had been high on weed, heroine or some other illegal substance she would have only faced a 5 day suspension. So the kid taking a prescripted drug get expelled, but the kid high on meth gets a 5 day vacation?

And to the weenie above that is "worried children might share their tylenol, what if it isn't tylenol???" - please get some balls. Your kids are going to be offered all kinds of things in life, don't leave it up to the schools to insulate your kids from harm. They are supposed to keep kids safe, but they can not prevent everything. It starts at home and you better warn your kids about sharing any pill or drink. We live in different times.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"Zero-tolerance drug policies make sense theoretically", THEY ACTUALLY MAKE NO SENSE THEORETICALLY, they do not instruct an individual on how to take care of themselves, they do not instruct on privacy, medical on otherwise, they do not instruct on anything other than how to live in a police-state, they do not instruct on anything other than how to become a control-freak, and believe me those kind of people do not make it far in this world or shouldn't. We are instructing them on how not to live in a modern society, on how not to interact with other members of the community. And no Dr. O there are many situations where a student does not have immediate or timely access to a nurse, actually quite similar to a prison, sorry to say. And strip searching for Ibuprofen, where is the sense of proportion.

Posted by: boris1 | April 7, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I think some people forget that many OTC meds can be dangerous when mixed with other OTC meds and/or can be overused. Frankly I don't think kids under 18 should be able to purchase OTC meds, but I guess that's another discussion. I am sympathetic with the schools, sure a little Tylenol seems like no big deal but a kid who is swigging Nyquil could be harming themselves and put others in danger if they were to drive. The school administration cannot be managing a formulary so it makes sense to have these things vetted by a medical professional. I would certainly be in favor of clearing prescriptions through the nurse and allowing self dosing if the parent consents or something like that. Remember, some of these kids are 18 and if you have 9th grade included, some are 14. I don't know that it is such a huge inconvenience for parents and kids to follow the rules.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

How about this scenario: At a high school softball game, player A is hit on the hand with a pitch. Several innings later, player A is sitting in the dugout and says to player B "my hand still REALLY hurts!" Player B responds "I've got some Advil in my bat bag if you want one." Player A answers "no thanks, I'm okay." Someone overhears this conversation and calls the school board's anonymous tip line to report it - thankfully, without naming the players.

Now, because the players weren't named in the report, no one is specifically punished. However, the entire team is summoned to a meeting with the athletic director and told that ONLY the athletic trainer can administer medication, EVEN over the counter products. What transpired at the game constituted two violations: one, player B acknowledged having Advil in her bag in violation of the policy; and two, player B offered to provide Advil to player A, in effect making her the "pusher." Thus, the entire team is formally warned that any further occurrences will be severely punished.

As others above have noted, the policy is ludicrous but it's in place to protect the school board's rear end in case the "aspirin" or "ibuprofen" turns out to be some other drug.

There's no easy solution because if they permit carrying some medication, some kid is going to get Tylenol 3 instead of the regular stuff, or OxyContin that's claimed to by Advil, and then everyone connected with the school system is going to be sued by a parent and his/her attorney. So to protect themselves they institute "zero tolerance" policies and look the other way most of the time.

But the result is that kids learn to lie - they carry Advil in Tic-Tac containers because it's not illegal to have candy in your bat bag at a game.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | April 7, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

It starts at home and you better warn your kids about sharing any pill or drink. We live in different times.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 9:54 AM


uhhhh. Different than what? It has ALWAYS been prudent to warn kids about sharing pills and drinks, but particularly relevant since at least the mid-60s.

Here's another cost: without ZT policies, the makers of Adderal wouldn't have had a market for extended-release ADD meds. It was the image of the kids lined up outside the school nurses office at noon that created a market for a pill taken before school. As a result of the extended-release form of ADD meds, lack of appetite at lunchtime is a huge issue. Before, a child took his/her ADD med in the morning. It wore off before lunchtime and he/she ate lunch. Then he took his afternoon meds before going to class.

Worry all you want about med sharing, but the larger issue is that if we don't let our 14 - 17 year old kids retain their privacy about their medical conditions (does everyone in the school have a right to know that a child is prone to epilepsy or allergies?) and develop aprogressively greater sense of responsibility for taking their own meds responsibly, then it's no surprise when they don't learn those skills until they go to college, if then.

The nanny state doesn't serve anyone's interest, but it certainly does minimize school board liability. Goodie.

Posted by: anonfornow | April 7, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Zero Tolerance rules are in place for the convenience of the administration - no other reason. I know. I am retired after 34 years in public schools. When I started common sense ruled, but lazy administrators have created rules that make no sense but make their jobs easier. They get paid to handle the tough decisions, but instead they write ridiculous rules.

Posted by: explorer3 | April 7, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I think this whole debacle speaks to the problem of public education as a whole. We have these zero-tolerance policies becuase it's much easier to administer on a system-wide level than taking the time and effort dealing with students as individuals. School boards and administrators are concerned with safety and liability -- any actual education is a bonus.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 7, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

AB, thanks for illustrating one of my biggest pet peeves with these policies. Some fully-grown person -- who is supposed to have some degree of sense -- overhears two athletes discussing Advil for an injury, and feels compelled to tattle? And then gets rewarded by knowing that her concerns were taken seriously and "appropriate action was taken," thus reinforcing the self-importance of nosy busybodiness? Yeah, now that exemplifies what I want to teach my kids.

This has nothing to do with what's best for the kids, and everything to do with the CYA and "convenience" of the grownups who are supposed to be looking out for them. Hayesap8 has it exactly right: these policies do absolutely nothing to deter the kids doing the bad/dangerous stuff. They adopted zero tolerance not long after I graduated, but it was limited to actual bad stuff. But that didn't work, so they started expanding it to not-quite-so-bad stuff, then even-less-bad-but-might-look-bad stuff, etc. And guess what? It still doesn't work. It's the classic fallacy of "oops, what we're doing isn't working, so we must need to do even more."

Posted by: laura33 | April 7, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"But the result is that kids learn to lie - they carry Advil in Tic-Tac containers because it's not illegal to have candy in your bat bag at a game."

So whaddya wanna bet that next year they outlaw Tic-Tacs?

Posted by: laura33 | April 7, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

It's not so black and white as the Post would like everyone to believe. Under Fairfax County's SR&R - which every kid has to sign every year (so, presumably a 17 year old should know the rules after 12 years) - states that a violation of the non-prescription drug policy MAY result in disciplinary action at the discretion of the principal. However, violation of the illegal drug policy MUST result in a suspension for the 1st violation + the incident is reported to the police.

What if this girl came to school with aspirin and gave a couple of them to a friend who didn't know she was allergic? Suddenly, the school system would be getting sued and all the parenting blogs would wonder why the school didn't protect the children. You can't have it both ways.

Here's a link to the SR&R:

http://www.fcps.edu/ss/StudentServices/SRNR/SRR08-09.pdf

Here's the language for each type of violation:

b. Nonprescription Drugs (Over-the-Counter Medications)
The following violations may result in disciplinary action and may require
mandatory sanctions:
Using or possessing any nonprescription drug not authorized as medication
under the current version of Regulation 2102. Nonprescription drugs include
products such as Advil, aspirin, Coricidin, Dramamine, Nyquil, Tylenol, or
their generic equivalents, caffeine pills, cough syrup, and other over-thecounter
medications intended to be ingested or inhaled. The abuse,
misuse, or distribution of nonprescription drugs shall result in a
suspension of a length to be determined by the principal and may result in
a recommendation for expulsion.

d. Marijuana, Imitation Marijuana, Any Controlled Substance, Including
Prescription Drugs, Imitation Controlled Substances (collectively, Illegal
Drugs), or Drug Paraphernalia
The following violations shall result in disciplinary action and shall require
mandatory sanctions:
(1) The first violation for being under the influence of marijuana or any
controlled substance including anabolic steroids, or for the illegal use of
prescription drugs, or for possession of drug paraphernalia shall result in
suspension from school for a minimum of five days and a maximum
of ten days and suspension for 30 calendar days from all student
activities, including teams, clubs, and all other school-sponsored
activities. All illegal drug violations shall be reported to the police.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 7, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse


I have to admit that I don't get this. "Zero tolerance" for kids? What if we had "zero tolerance" for adults? The Federal Government would be full of empty offices. Everyone who got a traffic ticket would have their license revoked and their car confiscated. Step on a crack and break your mothers back.

This seems insane to me. We need to love and help kids, not treat them prisoners in a maximum security institution. I am so glad I don't have kids.

I should also say that I would never have made it through a school system like this. Shame on Fairfax. Shame on the administration. Shame on the parents for putting up with this.

Something is really wrong, folks.

Posted by: PatrickInBeijing | April 7, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I really think that the underlying theory - that this kind of policy somehow protects the schools from liability is a fallicy. If anything, I think it opens them up to more liability for not enforcing their policy in a scenario where one kid gives another kid something harmful. However, even that would be a stretch - I just don't think that the school would be held liable in this kind of scenario. Anyone know of any cases where the school has been held liable for a kid giving something (drug, food, etc.) to another kid that ended up harming the kid?

Posted by: VaLGaL | April 7, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I've often felt that Fairfax County just assumes that there is a SAHM in every home. No school on Monday afternoon in elementary school? No problem!
Someone having to TAKE OFF WORK on a Monday morning to sign a form at the nurse's office so that the child can take two days worth of medication? No problem! We all know how much extra leave we all have sitting around in piles. In a family with two or three children, each one could easily require some type of medication once a year, necessitating using up three half-days worth of leave for trips to the nurse's office. It's as though the administrators on Ffx live on some kind of fantasy island where no one has any responsibilities except looking after the children.

Posted by: Justsaying4 | April 7, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

The point is that the principal does have discretion with regard to O-T-C medications violations. For some reason not disclosed by the parents or the school, the principal decided this girl should be suspended for a seemingly harmless violation.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 7, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"I really think that the underlying theory - that this kind of policy somehow protects the schools from liability is a fallicy. If anything, I think it opens them up to more liability for not enforcing their policy in a scenario where one kid gives another kid something harmful. However, even that would be a stretch - I just don't think that the school would be held liable in this kind of scenario. "

Think all you want, but ultimate liability is not the core issue. These policies are part of a risk management strategy that has as its goal putting into place policies that allow a school system or board to get a claim of negligence dismissed before discovery. Cutting down the costs of defending a school system against claims that the school should have done something to prevent personal injury or harm is a separate and highly valued goal.

In theory, we all benefit from limiting those defense costs by keeping our tax dollars going toward core educational expenditures rather than legal fees. On the other hand, we all bear the unintended consequences of teaching our kids that adults create and maintain stupid policies. Welcome to the real world, indeed.

Posted by: anonfornow | April 7, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

anon:

"It starts at home and you better warn your kids about sharing any pill or drink. We live in different times.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 9:54 AM

uhhhh. Different than what? It has ALWAYS been prudent to warn kids about sharing pills and drinks, but particularly relevant since at least the mid-60s."

Do you know about the explosion of prescription drug use by teenagers, from the medicine cabinets of parents, grandparents and friends? I don't know if this was the fad in the 60's and quite frankly it doesn't really matter. No one in talking about this phenomenon. We just went to our daughter DARE graduation and it was all about not smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and smoking weed. I need to ask why they aren't including prescription drug use since it is rampant in our HS's right now. Parents better start teaching kids at home about not taking pills that are offered to them, whether in pill or snort form. If your schools aren't talking about it perhaps you should bring it up, you might save some lives.

And Moxie, your worries are so unfounded. What if a kid walks across the street and gets hit by a car? How can you possibly prevent all drug interaction without keeping kids under house arrest 24/7? Swigging nyquil and driving are the least of our worries, plus it is the responsibility of the parents to teach their kids not to get in a car with a kid that is impaired. It's not foolproof though, nothing is, so apart from the bubble suit and seclusion things will happen.

Busybodies and nannystaters like our school with overzealous rules, it makes them feel important and gives them power over other peoples lives. Quite frankly, it is scary.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

"In theory, we all benefit from limiting those defense costs by keeping our tax dollars going toward core educational expenditures rather than legal fees."

OR kill all the lawyers.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Busybodies and nannystaters like our school with overzealous rules, it makes them feel important and gives them power over other peoples lives. Quite frankly, it is scary.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse


Are you related to ArmyBrat? Give it a rest.

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 7, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Busybodies and nannystaters like our school with overzealous rules, it makes them feel important and gives them power over other peoples lives"

I'd agree with this 100%. But I wouldn't limit it to schools.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 7, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I think these rules are stupid and contribute to kids who are not able to be responsible for themselves.

If you have a headache or cramps it should not be a Federal case to take an aspirin or Advil.

My kid in college calls home to tell me he's got a cold or headache. I say "take an aspirin". Kids have to learn to tend to themselves and these rules discourage that.

These policies don't reduce illegal drugs and add a lot of mickey-mouse to schools. They need to go.

Posted by: RedBird27 | April 7, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Are you related to ArmyBrat? Give it a rest.

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 7, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

No, and I won't.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

What happened to respecting authority? Have any of you thought that maybe the reason for the zero-tolerance rules might be to keep parents and students alike from trying to pull every exception out of the book? Sheesh, if your kid needs an epi-pen then that is something to sit down and discuss with the principal. If your kid needs ibueprofen then she should go to the nurse. Stop trying to make a case out of everything and just accept a rule for once and actually teach your child that rules are there for order, and to keep every area from being grey. Sheesh.

Posted by: courtney4 | April 7, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

"What happened to respecting authority?"

The authority isn't respectable!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 7, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

"So whaddya wanna bet that next year they outlaw Tic-Tacs?"

A soda can, or plastic water bottle & pen, or even a swatch of paper can serve as paraphenalia for marijuana use. So I say we ban water, paper, pens, and books from all schools. Hahaha! There's a zero-tolerence policy for you.

I'm subjecting 4 of my kids to the Fairfax County educational institutions and their rediculus policies. As I have observed and said recently these ZT rules are arbitrarily enforced, so the victims are singled out by the teacher's/administrater's individual prejudices. As a result, I've passed along some fatherly wisdom to my kids about "the system" and how to get through it without damning documentation:
#1 Dont do it. The authorities *ARE* out to get you, and they *WILL* try to destroy you for no other reason than they have the power to do so.
#2 DON'T GET CAUGHT! (Shirking the rules is one thing, getting caught is just plain stupid)

but if this fails:
1. Say nothing
2. Deny everything
3. Make counter accusations
4. Never hand over your cell phone
5. Although they can legally search your locker, Never let a teacher/administrator search your pockets, purse, or car.
6. Call dad

BTW: Even if a kid smokes pot before going to school, how can a teacher prove that a student is under the influence?
School's solution: ban laughter! LOL!


Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 7, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with courtney - well said. I'm really amazed that people think all of these medications are harmless. Abuse of OTC cough medications is a rising problem amongst young people and the Tylenol that everyone seems to think is inert, can cause liver failure with too high a dosage or prolonged usage. Taking too much of a medication with pseudoephedrine can cause a rapid heartbeat. Oten times kids don't know that many different medications have the same active ingredient and can take too much accidentally. Of all the things that I would put my energy into as a parent, changing this regulation would be at the bottom. Maybe if we as parents spent more time supporting the schools and administration instead of acting like a bunch of children everytime there is a rule we think is stupid, the schools wouldn't have as much trouble with the kids. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

How many of the complainers have ever contacted their school principal to say - how can I help you to make the school a better place? How can we support our school? It is so much easier to complain than it is to pitch in and contribute.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

How many of the complainers have ever contacted their school principal to say - how can I help you to make the school a better place? How can we support our school? It is so much easier to complain than it is to pitch in and contribute.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse


Moxie, After I picked myself up after falling out of my chair from a fit of laughter, I want you to report back to us after your kids get into middle school. They don't want your help unless it is to raise money or help with plays and other outside of school (time) events. I volunteer weekly at my kid's elementary school and everyone, from teachers to parents, tell me it ALL changes when they hit MS. You want to be involved in your kid's education from MS on, home school them. You will get input from individual teachers but be prepared for a "circle the wagons" mentality.

Sadly Moxie, you are probably comfortable with schools, the state, the feds, heck - add the PTA, running your life. The minute your kid forgets and takes a cough drop at school you will be whistling a different tune. Oh wait, I forgot, you would never make a mistake that hurt your child so I am assuming your children are perfect too. Whew! Good thing or you might be in TROUBLE.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Whacky, Even though our kids aren't in HS we are already prepping one of them for the nittwittery they are about to endure from administration in the middle and high schools. There are some fair, decent administrators out there but it only takes ONE a**hole administrator to ruin thousands of kid's lives because they are on a power trip. We have one of these a**holes at our local HS, and that he has not been removed for his position is absolutely criminal.

Circle the wagons.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

First off, I would never allow my kid to be strip searched. Second I will tell my kids that they are to do nothing til they hear from me. I am the boss of my kids, not the teacher, not the principal.

Posted by: pwaa | April 7, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"What happened to respecting authority?"

The authority isn't respectable!

I think this is the best quote. Because someone puts a title next to their name does not preclude you from common sense, your legal rights or YOUR authority as the parent.

Posted by: pwaa | April 7, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

RE: GroovisMaximus61:

"The point is that the principal does have discretion with regard to O-T-C medications violations. For some reason not disclosed by the parents or the school, the principal decided this girl should be suspended for a seemingly harmless violation."

Birth control pills are not OTC--they are prescription. Therefore the principal had no discretion in this case.

Posted by: tegularius | April 7, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Yeah Cheeky, I'm with you. I got a call earlier this year from the ass. principle whining that my child was running on the playground. Heaven forbid! Slap a label on that 1st grader, he's dangerous!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | April 7, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

First off, I would never allow my kid to be strip searched.

Posted by: pwaa | April 7, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

LOL! You'll probably find out AFTER the strip search is performed.

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 7, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

The infantilization of teenagers by the school system is just silly. I transferred to a private school in the 11th grade, and it was quite a revelation to be suddenly treated like a reasonable human being instead of like a criminal or a moron.

Posted by: floof | April 7, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

First off, I would never allow my kid to be strip searched.

Posted by: pwaa | April 7, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

LOL! You'll probably find out AFTER the strip search is performed.

Posted by: jezebel3 | April 7, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

What, by force? They are minors, if a child says no to a strip search and it is performed by force the county is getting sued.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

First off, I would never allow my kid to be strip searched.

Posted by: pwaa | April 7, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

LOL! You'll probably find out AFTER the strip search is performed.

Even I don't think that an administrator would be so foolish as to forcibly strip search a child who refused and asked to contact his/her parents. I imagine you would see a shrinking violet when the refusal is made. Petty bureacrats are usually cowards when confronted by strength. They count on indecision and the child's inherent weakness vis a vis an adult.

Posted by: pwaa | April 7, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

fr adh4:

>...As far as throwing in the issue of the Epipen and an acute allergic reaction... No acute allergy happens so quickly that the student does not have time to run for the office where the meds are stored...

Um, wrong. My wife has always been seriously allergic to iodine in seafood, and always carries an Epipen with her, just in case of emergency. I've seen her have an acute reaction, and it is VERY quick. Suppose the "office where the meds are stored" is LOCKED, and the so-called staff member is away. What does the student do THEN???

Posted by: Alex511 | April 7, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Alex511 is right. Anaphylactic shock doesn't wait for a kid to walk down the hall to alert the school nurse, who may or may not be there. Heck, in most schools, the nurse is only there one or two days a week and it's the school principal or secretary who may administer an epi pen anymore.

I don't like extremism of any kind, and zero tolerance rules count as extremism in my book. The reason zero tolerance rules exist is thanks to our litigious society and moms and dads who think that the school needs to be doing a better job of parenting their children. It's stuff like this that makes me think about homeschooling.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 7, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

tegularius:

Point taken re: birth control pills. However, I know a bunch of kids at Oakton HS and I've never heard any complaints of draconian bureaucratic behavior from the kids or their parents. I'm thinking this is either an isolated incident or something else was going on.

Nobody likes a "petty bureaucrat" and when my kid was at Kilmer and the "no touch" rule was instituted, I thought it was ridiculous. That being said, I think that a bunch of the folks on this blog who are complaining about the SR&R have their heads in the sand about the type of stuff going on in our local high schools. The 2008 Fairfax Youth Survey shows that abuse of prescription drugs is the "drug of choice" in Fairfax high schools - not weed, cocaine, heroin, LSD, meth, etc. Even the Honor students are popping Adderol. And if you think it's better at the private high schools - wow.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 7, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Cheeky, I'm going to take your response as a no, you haven't asked your school how you can help. Instead you choose to spend your time and energy compaining to everyone in earshot about how stupid everyone is, which is something I did when I was about 15. If you think the administration at your school is a bunch of nitwits, then I challenge you to attend the school board meetings to find out what decisions are being made and what the rationale is. There may be things going on at the school that you don't know about. You are also welcome to run for your local school board and have a hand in creating policies. You act as if there is some cabal who decides to devote their professional life to "ruining the lives" (teeny bopper statement if I ever heard one) of innocent teenagers by becoming teachers and administrators. They are such well paying and powerful jobs, who wouldn't want to do that? You try spending the day managing hundreds of kids that come from different families and cultures and see how much you like it and how popular your decisions are.

One thing I can guarantee is that sitting around talking about what a bunch of bozos are running the schools will result in zero change or improvement. So carry on! Well done.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Moxie!

My parents and my partner's parents taught and are teaching for over 40 years each. We've also got at least two generations of school board members between us, and have experienced first hand the amount of time and dedication that folks who are actually involved in education spend weighing very difficult decisions. Complaining anonymously on a blog doesn't earn you these titles, but it may earn you the title of bully or troll.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 7, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand this whole idea of: oh, no, do you know how many kids are abusing prescription medication?
Well, it's REALLY not the school's job to figure out. It's a parent's job to ensure a child knows how to handle situations. What, are we all just supposed to hope our children don't get into situations they don't know how to handle? It will happen daily in their lives once they become teenagers.
If you're unhappy about kids getting into your meds, well, by all means LOCK THEM UP. Talk with your kids about not taking medication from their friends, or anyone, and that if they are not exactly sure what it might be, to just say no. Do something rather than thinking the school is going to ensure that nothing ever ever happens to your kid.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | April 7, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? Does anyone think things are better at private schools? Those are the kids with the money, groovus.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | April 7, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

The kids at the private schools were I grew up were the ones with the money to buy it, and their parent's stash. They also had the fast cars to drive around in while they were under the influence.

Abuse of prescriptions and some OTCs since the late 80's and early 90s. It may have been that way prior, but that's all I've been old enough to observe.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 7, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Alex511, I hear you! I'm a volunteer firefighter/EMT, and I can tell you from treating patients that an anaphylactic reaction to an allergen can happen in SECONDS. Who's got time to go across the school to the nurse's office to get an EpiPen in a case like that? That EpiPen needs to be administered YESTERDAY, and Goddess help you if the nurse is away or the cabinet is locked!

On the same subject of nurses being off on some days, what is a girl who is in so much pain from crippling menstrual cramps that she can barely stand supposed to do, just suffer? I was one of those poor souls; I suffered from dysmenorrhea with my cycle from age 10 1/2 to 18 when I finally went on the pill for it, and in between I went through eight years of hormonal hell. Forget popping Advil-unless I was willing to spend half the day in bed, I could take prescription-level doses till I practically rattled and it would do no good at all! I'd take Advil and even smuggle it in my backpack so I could take another dose at lunch, and since I was constantly on the move, it did squat for my pain. The only way I could've dealt with it at school was to spend an hour after I took it lying down in the nurses's office, and you know what that does for class attendance! This girl was doing the responsible thing, be it for pregnancy prevention or for correcting menstrual problems, and she was treated the same as a criminal by the school system! Those zero-tolerance rules don't stop the criminals from misbehaving...all they do is prevent the responsible kids from taking care of themselves without having to jump through a ridiculous number of hoops to do so. There are still kids who are able to take care of their medical issues, be it pain relief or allergies or hormonal maintenance, and they are being hamstrung by a system that still sees them as perennial children who are incapable of taking care of themselves!

Posted by: dragondancer1814 | April 7, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

atlmom1234:

The point I was trying to make isn't that parents should rely on the schools to ferret out prescription drug abuse - it's that prescription drug abuse is on the rise and schools are having to deal with it.

Here's one for ya - two years ago, my kid's high school had a 22 year old student with a learning disability who continued to stay in school just so he could sell weed out of a 3rd floor bathroom. This kid (adult) was a criminal - but every time the school tried to expel him, the mom (a true whacko) would file a discrimination suit against Fairfax County schools. So the kid stayed at the school and finally, finally aged out. That's an extreme example - but how would you like to have to deal with that kind of crap?

All I'm saying is that folks should try to avoid a knee-jerk reaction when stories like this one about the girl and her birth control pills gets reported. It may seem terribly unfair on the surface - but maybe there's another side to the story.

Posted by: GroovisMaximus61 | April 7, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't see why everyone is so appalled. Granted, the punishment was extreme and I don't think it's appropriate to the situation, but the rule itself makes perfect sense, and was a fixture of my school experience (from the mid-80s to late-90s). Think of it is less of a "school cracking down on all drugs, legal or not" and "how can we not trust our kids to take an aspirin" and look at it from a logistical standpoint:

If there are lots of drugs, prescription, over the counter, legal or no, floating around a school and children (yes, under 18 is a child legally) are self-medicating (and, honestly, probably sharing any or all of the above), what's to stop a kid from accidentally or purposefully overdosing? Or having an allergic reaction? How quickly do you think the school would get sued?

It's not even like she HAS to take them at noon--any time during the day is fine. If she'd actually thought about that (and, personally, I bet she did and WANTED to take them at school for some teenage reason), this whole thing wouldn't have happened.

They ban peanuts in primary schools, and you don't want them to ban prescription drugs in high school? Come on, now people.

As far as privacy goes....you DO realize that even "just a school nurse" as these comments seem to condescend IS actually a trained medical professional, and privacy is afforded to her under those circumstances. And if she'd be "embarrassed" to have to talk to a stranger about birth control...well, maybe she's not mature enough to (a) take full control of her medical decisions (b) engage in sexual activity. Also, on the privacy front....just who in the hell do you think called the Washington Post about this? Not the school (wouldn't want the negative backlash coming from people who can't get past the headline, and plus it's a privacy issue).

Finally, don't worry about this kid. She and her parents likely feel more than vindicated for causing this huge stink, and she'll turn it into a life-changing experience through which she persevered, with a nice populist/feminist angle for her college application essay and get into the school of her choice.

(PS, I once worked at a sleepaway camp with much the same rules, applied to adult counselors too. It is a safety issue for the children--and an American Camping Association rule. You just don't want drugs floating around where anyone can get to them under circumstances like that.)

Posted by: freckleface | April 7, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

There's ALWAYS another side to the story. But there's always somewhere to find illegal (and probably legal) drugs if the kids want to find it. That's part of what I was saying.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | April 7, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Moxie and MzPriss, Are you all for real? Do you live in Mayberry where you know on the door of the school with a batch of warm cookies and the secrtary brings you some tea while you wait for a meeting with the Principal? Perhaps you are old enough to rememeber these days MzPriss, but the rest of us live in 2009. Sorry ladies, by the time you are in HS parents shouldn't be following their kids around with tissues and umbrellas. I'm not saying the schools aren't correct in forcing parents to cut the umbilical cord, but when they implement assinine policies, you can't keep quiet.

Moxie, I have been to more School Board meetings, BOS of Supervisor meetings and "coffee chats" with my own Supervisor than you can shake a stick at. I am very busy with a variety of groups that do nothing but advocate for tax payers and streamlined local government, half of which is dedicated to stopping crap like Mandarin Chinese for Middle schoolers when dozens of people are losing their jobs at the county level - which will only add to the already high foreclosure rate. I have been up to my ears in budget battles the past 2 weeks and probably dedicated more time trying to improve the school budget than you have watching Oprah. So please save your righteous indignation for someone of your own naive calliber, I can guarantee you have not taken your own advise or you would know better than to spout off so ignorantly. I love the "go run for School Board!" retort, as if serving with people with a vested interest in keeping things the SAME is a good choice? You can't get elected in this county unless you prescribe to the "all things at all cost for THE CHILDREN" - no thanks.

And MzPriss, I have met you in every School Board meeting, community input session and BOS session I have attended. You are cliche and cloned and if Moxie wants to be in your corner, God help her.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

How do you make sense of a policy -- the SR&R noted above -- that says certain actions "may require mandatory sanctions":

"may" implies some discretion; "mandatory" does not -- how the bloody h*** can you put those together in the same sentence?

Posted by: annenh | April 7, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Do something rather than thinking the school is going to ensure that nothing ever ever happens to your kid.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | April 7, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse


Finally some sanity.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

freckleface: but the point is that the whole idea of 'medication flying around the school' is a little bit false, anyway.
We ridiculed the rule that the school nurse was not allowed to even give us an aspirin for a headache. Was not allowed. So what to do if you have a headache? Have your own medication. Anyway you can always find a place to take it, seriously. You may be right about her trying to 'flaunt' taking the medication.
BUT we didn't (that I knew of ) have the rule that you couldn't take any medication (just that the nurse couldn't give you any). And if people wanted to find illegal drugs they could, and no one was going to stop them, anyway.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | April 7, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Moxie, I forgot to mention, do you know how much money it costs to even run for a School Board seat? Somewhere around 40-50K where I live. To run for a BOS seat it will require raising over 100K. People are quite naive at the time and costs associated with running for public office, these seats are used as launching pads for full time politicians that are looking to run for state legislatures and beyond. The days of the stay at home doo-gooder mom (sound familiar?) running for SB and "making a gosh darn difference for our kids" is over. These races are arranged by both parties up to 2 years in advance in this area. If you want to run for SB, go to your local GOP or Dem Committee and pay your dues, prove yourself and stand in line.

We don't live in Mayberry Moxie, I wish we did, but all politics is local.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"The infantilization of teenagers by the school system is just silly. I transferred to a private school in the 11th grade, and it was quite a revelation to be suddenly treated like a reasonable human being instead of like a criminal or a moron."

I had the same experience, except in reverse. I went to a private middle school and a public high school (oakton). It was like transfering into a prison --"Welcome to Oakton, numbrer 94601."

But after receiving detention once for arriving late, I understood why the rules were in place. The kids in detention were so out of control I was shocked. It soured me on public education from that point, as I realized the administration and staff were more concerned (rightly) with the stafety of the other students and staff than actually teaching.

Posted by: NoVAHockey | April 7, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Cheeky, any credibility you might have you immediatly lose when you turn to name calling and random nastiness. BTW it is advice and subscribe not advise and prescribe.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

atlmom, yeah, you got it. It's a total catch-22. When my daughter had some minor thing, the nurse flat-out told me that I couldn't send in something basic without a doctor's note -- I forget what it was, but it was along the lines of Neosporin or Tylenol. And yet, the kids can't take anything themselves, or they get expelled. So our quest for perfect protection for our kids (not to mention the school system) has now effectively prevented those kids from getting reasonable medical attention for reasonable medical problems -- even WITH a note from the parents. So, what, I'm supposed to take a day off work to go to the doctor every time she gets a headache? And we wonder why medical costs are skyrocketing?

Oh, and I don't buy the "it's so much worse now" argument. Remember airplane glue, aerosol cans, OTC codeine cough syrup, real Sudafed that you could buy without providing name, address, drivers' license, fingerprints, first-born-child? If anything, things are more regulated now. And yet, our kids are no safer.

When I was in school, kids were suspended for pot and other illegal drugs. Now kids are suspended for ibuprofen, cough drops, and birth-control pills. This is progress? I will respect authority when the authority earns my respect -- that is, when it's logical, rational, and reasonably tailored to what it's supposed to do. But I will not offer blind obedience to stupidity in the name of administrative convenience.

Posted by: laura33 | April 7, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the advice Moxie. You are not only a perfect mother with perfect children, but a perfect speller with a perfect demeanor. You tell me to go run for School Board because all I am doing is complaining, I explain why you are wrong, and you get miffed.

Moxie mantra: If you can't beat someone with facts or merits to an argument, call them bad spellers and go home with your ball......

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Laura, What is worse is if your kid is suspended and/or expelled (for whatever substance), Fairfax County's answer is to give your child the chance to attend on of their "second chance" schools with all the kids with substance abuse and legal problems. Hey, what a deal!

My friend's son was a dumbass and got caught with pot in 10th grade on school prpoerty, he got expelled and they offered him just such a deal. His parents politely said "no thank you" and homeschooled him his last 2 years in school. He didn't have a drug problem, he was a fairly good student in public school but an even better one after he left and is now a Junior at a very good VA State school, one he probably would not have gotten into if he had remained in Public. He took cc courses in what would have been his senior year of HS, after completing about 18 months of HS work in under 9 months. Sometime getting kicked out can work to your benefit.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 7, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Cheeky, I'm not debating you simply because you can't be civil end of story. Calling someone a know it all, telling people you "have seen their kind" before, and coating every single post in sarcasm is not o.k. You are very angry at someone about a lot of things, but I'm not going to be your punching bag.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Zero Tolerance is that it is one-size-fits-all, and one size doesn't fit all.

Frankly, I'm of the school of thought that teenagers who are legally able to procure abortions without parental consent should also be able to self-dose prescribed medications without school involvement. The system would be fine if they had kids and parents sign a waiver instead of the SR&R.

Posted by: djconnor | April 7, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

djconnor: yes, a sane idea. But the school system isn't necessarily there to educate children, it is there to get the kids through (I have a kid in public school and am going to send the second one as well).
Yes, there are good and great teachers out there. Yes, many people in the schools are great. But it seems the system overall is not working so much (and no, more money won't fix it). We need some sort of alliance between parents/teachers/administrators that we do not have. The system has fallen apart. I don't know the answer, I'm hardly an educator, but when people can't touch, or give themselves an aspirin, something is very very wrong.

As in, why are we even spending time and energy on this? Aren't there more important issues to discuss? Seriously - maybe if the schools keep us focused on these things, we won't notice how the rest of the school is working?

Posted by: atlmom1234 | April 7, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

"Cheeky, I'm not debating you simply because you can't be civil end of story."

Ain't it interesting when someone says they won't debate another person even as they insist on getting the last word in about how they won't debate another person . . . .

Newsflash: Angry and coherent beats defensive, immature and silly every time.

Posted by: anonfornow | April 8, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Actually anonfornow, I would like to point that that Cheeky's post are generally angry and INCOHERENT. The majority of folks here are willing to agree or disagree in a civil manner, with the exception of the trolls who labeled everyone here a mean mommy. They opine, then back it up. She just rants. Moximom1 and I don't agree on this issue, but I'd rather get into a discussion with her, as she presents points that I may not have thought of.

On this and other issues, Cheeky and I have been in agreement, but because the way that I've come to that decision is different than her, she attacks me. Therefore, I refuse to reply to her attacks as well.

Posted by: MzFitz | April 8, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

altmom,
if even just a quarter of students have advil in their lockers, that's an awful lot of pills out there. add in prescription meds (and correct the gross underestimation of a quarter), and there really could be a lot of medication out there.

yes, they can get OTC and prescription (legal or no) drugs "anywhere" but if they get it at school because the school does not control the issue, that's not "anywhere", that's at school. they can get cigarettes anywhere, too. and it's legal for some high schoolers to smoke them (many seniors, even juniors are 18 or older), just as it is legal for those with prescriptions to take certain medications. does that mean the school should allow smoking on school property and just ask to see the ID of every student seen smoking, or does an all-out smoking ban make more sense? or should they just not bother any kid they see smoking because it's not their business if they're 18 or not (like it's not their business if they have a prescription for that pill they just saw the kid swallow)? if your kid picked up smoking at school and the school knew it, saw it happening and did nothing, would you be happy? now pretend you can have overdoses and drug interactions with cigarettes. it really is an important issue.

as for the girl's privacy, (a) she still can just take the pills at home and it's a moot point (b) if she needs/wants to take them at school she has to deposit them with the nurse, who she should know is a medical professional and dedicated to her medical privacy. if she's still "embarrassed" by the nurse knowing she's on the pill, i would seriously question her whether her maturity and responsibility levels are sufficient to be on such medication (or engaging in the type of activity often associated with it).

we all get a little shy about medical things. let's be juvenile and call it our "plumbing" (wapo didn't publish my last comment with specific examples). but we, mature and responsible people, know that certain exams need to be done, and the very personal questions asked and answered for the benefit of our health. she needs to accept that in order for her to be on these pills AND take them at the time of day she desires, she has to grow up and accept a little "embarrassment" in order to get her medical needs met...just like everyone else. fact of life. and it only gets harder from there.

in terms of what the nurse is "allowed" to do...every school seems different and, yes, yours sounds worthy of ridicule. my school had parents fill out a form at the beginning of the year listing medications taken at home (in case of drug interactions in case of emergency, another very serious reason the school should know what meds the students are on), allergies, medications to be administered at school, and OTC meds the nurse is authorized to administer--all computerized. provided the parents allowed it, we could get aspirin from the nurse at any time. easy enough.

Posted by: freckleface | April 8, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"Cheeky, I'm not debating you simply because you can't be civil end of story. Calling someone a know it all, telling people you "have seen their kind" before, and coating every single post in sarcasm is not o.k. You are very angry at someone about a lot of things, but I'm not going to be your punching bag.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | April 7, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse"

I'm not angry, but you are a real baby sometimes Moxie. If you can't argue on the merits, or admit you are wrong, I will blast you out of the water if I feel like it - and use sarcasm. Some of what you say is ridiculous, and I would have thought you'd be used to be a punching bag by now because you have no logical retorts or reasoned arguments.

You are naive about School Board and local issues, you like gov't intrusion in your life no matter at what level, apparently you are a perfect parent that refuses to admit that either you or your kids could make mistakes, and you resort to spelling correction posts to make yourself feel better. Nice work.

MzPriss, I don't particularly care what you think about me. Good luck pressing your fluff.

Posted by: cheekymonkey | April 9, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Parents! You want us to be responsible for you childs wellbeing but yet when we do take responsiblity and put policies in place to keep your child safe your unhappy about that too. I bet you would be the first person to sue if something happen to your child because another kid gave your child a medication. Really! people are starving in the world, go work at a soup kitchen. You obviously have too much time on your hands!

Posted by: CAPSGIRL1 | April 14, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

As a registered nurse working in a middle school, I am in a unique postition to speak to the issue of students self-administering medications at school.

First of all, I think to insinuate there is something scandulous about a female student taking birth control pills is an ignorant comment on the part of the writer, Ms. Garfinckle. Many girls are prescribed BCP's to help alleviate difficulties with menstrual periods, and even at times to treat acne.

As for her alarmist statements about emergency medications, most school districts have policies which allow students to carry and self-administer emergency medications such as asthma rescue inhalers, Epipens, and Benadryl. I encourage students to carry these types of meds, in addition to me having a back-up in my clinic. The proper permission forms must be on file and the doctor must document the student is trained to recognize the need for the medication and know how to use it.

I think common sense needs to be used when looking at these policies, but there are very good reasons students should not be allowed to carry and self-administer medications.

How about the student who is carrying a bottle of Advil and has been self-treating for increasingly severe headaches? He has not presented to the school nurse, who would recognize the need for a physician evaluation. The kid could just have headaches, or they could have anything from migraines to a brain tumor, or complications from an unreported head injury.

How about the student who decides to share their Advil with a child who has a life-threatening allergy to Ibuprofen...and neither student realizes Advil IS Ibuprofen?

Or how about the fact that as a school nurse, I am responsible for your child and for any side effects to medications they are taking. I do not advertise what medications students are taking.

School nurses are professionals who understand and respect confidentiality.

I do think the type of medciation taken and whether or not it was prescribed to the student are important considerations.

If I am aware of a student self-administering Advil, etc. I will just explain to the student and parent that it is against school policy and talk about the reasons for the policy. I will offer to keep medication in the clinic for the student with the proper permission form.

If there were a further incident, or the medicine was a controlled substance or not prescribed to the student, that is different.


Posted by: dawn0220 | April 14, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

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