Outrage of the Week: Girl Suspended for Touching Pill

Hi Readers! Yes, you read that right. A middle school girl in an Indiana, Rachel Greer, was in the school’s locker room when another girl walked in with a bag of ADHD pills.  She put one in Rachel’s hand and Rachel said, “I don’t want this!” so she put it back in the bag and headed into gym class, according to this account.

But after the girl with the pills was discovered, she fingered Rachel and Rachel admitted the truth: She had indeed touched the pill — that she immediately rejected. And, thanks to those Zero Tolerance laws we spend a lot of time talking about here, she received a week-long suspension for drug possession: no ifs, ands, butts — or common sense. School officials apparently explained that if they didn’t enforce their drug policies strictly, no one would take them seriously.

Too bad that by enforcing their drug policies so stupidly, that’s exactly what’s happening. The administrators are a laughing stock. Or maybe a crying stock is more like it. — Lenore

63 Responses

  1. So let me get this straight…

    a) The girl had something placed into her hand – she didn’t know what it was initially but had no reason to say “no”.

    b) Upon recognizing what it was, she immediately rejected it, put it back and said, out loud, “I don’t want this.”

    c) When officials questioned her, she was honest.

    And for this…she’s punished?

    Exactly what kind of citizen do they WANT her to be? Superhuman, with powers to detect a school-illegal substance from twenty paces?

  2. You know sometimes I really get mad when people criticize you when you complain that the U.S. isn’t the smartest country in the world – sometimes. Then you see a story like this that proves it.

    We need to have a common sense revolution in the U.S.

  3. If I were this girl’s parents I’d have been at the school calling foul. The girl who gets caught fingers my kid and without any sort of investigation into the matter, my kid is suspended? Sounds to me that has less to do with zero tolerance and more to do with lazy admins. There’s no excuse for this. None whatsoever.

  4. You know, in US law there’s a standard that says that in order for a law to be valid, a reasonable person has to be capable of conforming his conduct to the requirements of the law. Otherwise the law is said to be “unconstitutionally vague.” Thus, for example, a law that fines parents whose sons don’t grow up to be at least six feet tall would be struck down as vague.

    In this case, I don’t see how any kid could comply with the policy, short of avoiding all interaction with other students. And in law, that sort of requirement is called a “chilling effect” and is as kosher as a ham and cheese sandwich.

  5. So much for “just saying no”…you get penalized no matter what you do. Why would someone choose to take the drug-free path when they crucified for refusing? I wouldn’t be surprised if the girl who refused said, “screw it” and began dabbling…because saying no was fruitless in the eyes of the school system. Ridiculous.

  6. Holy stupidity Batman! Exactly how serious does the administration think the rules are taken when they apply them like this? All this does is get the kids to start thinking I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t so why bother even attempting to follow them in a reasonable manner.

    Stupidity at it’s finest!!!!

  7. What was the girl supposed to do? It seems she didn’t say “hey what do you have there?” or “can I see one?”. According to the story it was placed in hef hand and she gave it right back, common sense & logic would indicate that is the epitome of “just say no”. So is the moral to the story to walk around with you hands in your pockets & run screaming from anyone who tries to give you something?

  8. Just think… those administrators (and many others like them) make over 150 g’s a year, with totally paid benefits, pension plans and 401k’s… oh, and if they are high enough on the food chain, a new car. The peter principle at work. Fire them all.

  9. What bothers me most is this: “We wanted to know what would have happened if Rachael had told a teacher right away. Bell said the punishment would not have been any different.” WHAT?! How are they ever going to get an honest student to do the right thing? What if a student overdoses or threatens to do so? The kids who know about it may not come forward with these rules. Very SAD.

    You know, these stories are just making me glad that my kids are homeschooled! ~Cori

  10. Well said, Cori. Good point.

  11. OK, I propose a law that punishes educators who suspend kids without proving beyond a reasonable doubt that they are an unacceptable disruption or danger to the student body.

    Every day I hear of another idiotic suspension – and another several days when a child is being unreasonably denied his right to a free public education. This is not good for anyone, except maybe lazy educators.

    I wonder: if it’s true that schools get government funding based on how many kids attend per day, does a suspension result in cut funding? Maybe it should, considering how arbitrary some educators are in imposing them.

  12. so it sseems to me the girls were talking about the pills. the other girl gave rachael a pill, and rachael handed it back. so i guess as soon as the other girl said anything about having the pills, rachael should have crammed her hands into her pockets and run away screaming, “_______ has drugs! i didn’t touch them! help!” why on earth SHOULD a student follow the rules if the punishment is the same for following them as breaking them?


  14. So the school administrator basically states that it’s better for a student to lie than to tell the truth./Facepalm.

  15. By the way, I still fail to understand what is wrong with students touching legal pills in school. I still think I ought to be allowed to send my daughter to school with an aspirin, Tylenol, or Midol if I consider her mature enough to use it properly. And I fail to see the problem if she should show or offer such a pill to one of her friends. Or if, when shown a pill that she doesn’t know to be illegal, she should hold it temporarily in her hand. I hate the way they treat young people like criminals or animals when in (or associated with) a school setting.

  16. SKL, how could you! How could you expect us to be allowed to parent our own children and judge for ourselves what medications they are allowed to carry and self-dose with! We only trust our 16yo to drive, but a Midol? SUSPENSION!

  17. And to reveal myself as even more clueless about “today’s world,” how does a parent have time to teach children about each and every arbitrary thing that they might get in trouble for in school? I mean, some things are obvious, but these goofballs come up with new stuff every day. I can’t see myself drilling my kids on the latest list of forbidden hand gestures, words, and props, and the latest iteration of the no-tolerance policy. So I guess that means my kids will be suspended more often than not, so I might as well plan on home-schooling.

  18. “School officials apparently explained that if they didn’t enforce their drug policies strictly, no one would take them seriously.”

    No, it is the capriciously used, arbitrarily enforced, or overly-enforced rules that cause them to not be taken seriously.

  19. What an absurdly silly rule. I agree with SKL, too — I hated teachers that enforced “no drugs, ever” because it meant I had to go home on more than one occasion with cramps that medication could easily have dealt with. I also thought that high school nurses should be allowed to provide students with painkiller, as long as they had reasonable knowledge that the student wasn’t allergic (which they should, since that kind of stuff gets put on application forms, at least here).

    I was thinking, though. What if one student put a weapon in another’s hand? Does that violate zero tolerance policies? What if it was an illegal drug? Should the student be arrested? Would that hold up in court? Of course not, or at least, not in any country I’d want to be associated with. OTOH, what if it was a sex toy, or something pornographic? I would be willing to bet my pitiful funds that the second student would be sent to counseling in case she was scarred for life, and the first would be put on The Registry. Equally silly, of course, but I think it’s revealing that the rules almost certainly change based on the nature of the object, not based on the circumstances.

  20. Well I don’t know, Jaynie, where they would draw the line when it comes to sex. Many schools are handing out condoms and even referring kids to the nearby abortion clinic. So why would they complain about kids exchanging condoms, sex toys, or porn? Seems that might actually be encouraged nowadays. Very confusing.

  21. Correction to my comment to Jaynie. Of course, if you had porn that someone else emailed to you that you didn’t even ask for, you would be harshly punished. But I’ve not heard of anyone being punished for bringing a Playboy to school in recent years. It almost seems like culpability increases as intent decreases. And no, that does not make sense.

  22. Ditto everything that has already been said.

    SKL, the pills in question were “ADHD pills” which means it’s probably either methylphenidate (Ritalin etc.) or amphetamines (Adderall or Dexedrine). All of these are Schedule 1 controlled substances. It’s a crime to be in possession of these medications, unless they are not legally prescribed to you (or your minor child… at least I hope so, ’cause otherwise I’m going to jail for having my son’s meds in my purse).

    The thing is, no reasonable person would ever, in a million years, think that Rachael had violated the intention of the law. A jury would return a “not guilty” in mere minutes. A police officer would probably be disciplined for arresting her under these circumstances. The school officials? They are apparently living on on another planet from the rest of us.

  23. And just to keep beating a dead horse, do you really think they adhere to the “no tolerance” policy when it comes to the kids who have real issues? For every kid who is busted and suspended under the “no tolerance” rule, you know there are repeat offenders who are caught and dealt with more “compassionately.” Someone please tell me I am wrong, but that’s how the world has always been in my observation. Otherwise certain classes and certain schools would be practically empty every day.

  24. Argh… I meant to say “unless they are legally prescribed to you.”

    Also I got sidetracked because it is late and my brain is half-asleep already. SKL, I do totally agree with you about common over the counter medicines! Especially for teenagers. They can make strict rules to control it—original marked containers, no sharing, maybe a certain max quantity—but sheesh, should a high school kid have to interrupt her day and possibly embarrass herself by asking to go to the nurse just to get some Motrin? I think it’s a wise policy for elementary-aged kids, though.

  25. I know, Robyn, but kids have been busted and suspended for having, showing, and sharing perfectly legal, over-the-counter drugs. Midol is one example that isn’t even recent. Still makes my blood boil. Because they think it’s better for a teen girl to have to go tell her teacher (perhaps a male not much older than herself) that she has menstrual cramps, in front of the whole class, in order to maybe get some relief. It amazes me that with all the civil liberties lawsuits you see in high schools, this outrage persists.

  26. Obviously this whole topic gets my goat, LOL!!

  27. Wait a minurte. Let’s back up a little.
    Why would anyone have “a bag of ADHD pills” at school in the first place? Most of these legal prescription drugs are potent enough that taken in the morning before school, a second dose is generally not required for a while.
    What happened to the person with the stash of ADHD pills?
    Not necessary to ask what school authorities were thinking. They weren’t!

  28. What really freaks me out is that she would even have been punished, if she had reported the incident right away… Think about that for a second… Wow.

    The whole thing is insane.

    So long,

  29. Now that’s gotta be one of the most f___tarded things I have heard. What kind of lesson are they teaching kids? Now they won’t say anything at all if they witness something wrong in fear they will get in trouble for it.


  30. Wow- lots of comments, and no one thinks that posting this was an overreaction! I’m trying to imagine how someone could defend the actions of the school admin. in this case, and I’m drawing a COMPLETE blank. I hope this gets enough press that they feel pressured into apologizing to this girl and… actually, I don’t know how they could make it up to her. They’ve taught her a lesson, alright- I just hope she doesn’t let it ruin her desire to say “no” in the future.

    I showed an article about this to my husband, who’s a DARE instructor. He was speechless. I’m pretty sure he’d have something to say if this happened in a school around here.– so far so good, though.

  31. Have you ever seen a school anywhere that did not clain to teach “critical thinking”? It certainly happened for Rachel and not for the administration.

  32. If one of my kids ever gets suspended for this, the suspension will turn into a week-long party, and then we’ll start homeschooling.

  33. SKL – My son has been trapped in a few “who could have possibly guessed that was wrong” suspensions. I’m able to use them as a teachable moment of how laws can get out of hand very quickly.

    “Greater Clark County School district officials would not tell us how many other students were involved, but they did tell us there were other suspensions and some students were moved to an alternative school. ”

    This is the last paragraph of the story, so hopefully there was punishment of the girl who originally brought them to school in a bag.

  34. The school admins should be on unpaid leave for allowing drugs in thier school! What kind of message are they sending when they allow it to happen on thier watch!

  35. I think Vince wins for his comment.

    This whole thing is insane.
    I don’t remember schools going this insane when I was a kid, at least not in high school (I’ve blocked out most of junior high for other reasons). Maybe it was because I went to school with 2000+ other girls between the ages of 14-18 but OTC pain medication was a norm in the school. I’m not sure what the official policy was (I know prescriptions medications had to be registered with the nurse and certain ones could be carried with you but only 1 dose) but we regularly took Tylenol, Midol, etc in between classes and at lunch and no one said anything.
    I can only imagine the disruption of the day if a girl had to leave class to go to the nurse for a cramps (the school was huge so there was no way to do this stuff between classes since we only had 5 minutes to get where we were going).

  36. Jen Connelly,

    You are extremely lucky. When I was in high school, I wasn’t allowed to bring any kind of OTC medication onto the school property. If you have a headache or cramps and you can’t concentrate on what your teacher is saying, then your learning just has to suffer so that the school doesn’t risk someone abusing aspirin. We could go to the nurse and if we were lucky enough that she actually believed we were in pain, then we could lay down and rest on her couch for a few minutes. The inhaler policy at my high school was just plain silly. We were supposed to keep them in the nurse’s office, but if you have an asthma attack, you won’t be able to make it there in time. I remember having an asthma attack during gym class and the nurse wouldn’t let me use my inhaler after class because she would need explicit permission from both my mother and the doctor who prescribed it that I could use it right at that moment.. I suffered through the next class until it passed, and after that I started carrying an inhaler in my purse and made sure to keep it well hidden.

  37. A law made to prevent drug abuse gets a girl suspended because she refuse to abuse drugs. Only in America where rules no matter how irrational trump common sense. Does this nonsense ever end.

    You gotta love this stuff.

  38. Oh stop it! My mother had a thing about our teeth falling apart, so gave us fluoride pills. I hated eating them, so would take them into school (aged about five) and hand them over to whoever wanted them. Needless to say, when the teachers found out it led to a major drug’s bust. But all laughed, no one was hurt, and my parents quite like laughing about their drug dealer tot. Really hope this incident won’t go on the girls’ record, because if it’s zero tolerance now, I suspect it won’t get any less crazy when she’s applying for college, etc.

  39. As I’ve mentioned before, if that was a school I was a student in I would be leaving little baggies full of Tic-Tacs in corners where the idministrators would spot them so they could call in the clowns with the drug dogs. Sandwich bags full of oregano are also fun, as are Jack Daniel’s bottles filled with iced tea. I was a Seaman Recruit in the War on Drugs and it was good training for when I went in the military – I already knew most of the officers were idiots.

  40. Did the school admins touch the bag of pills when they were confiscated? Then they should all be suspended without pay!

  41. I don’t have a problem with zero tolerance — kids need to learn accountability and responsibility, and consequences play a major role in that.

    The problem is that “zero tolerance” in practice means “one size fits all” punishment, so that the girl with two Midol in her purse is treated exactly the same as the dealer with a pocketful of rocks — when what should happen (assuming any action is warranted for bringing OTC meds to school, which is a questionable proposition, at best) is that she’s told doing so is a “no-no,” the pills are kept in the office until being returned at dismissal and she knows that, in the future, she should leave them with the school nurse for dispensing as needed.

    But that would require school officials to exercise discretion, which in turn leaves them open to potential liability.

  42. You know, schools would run MUCH smoother if they’d just go ahead and suspend all the kids from the get-go.

    No more drugs in school, no more rudeness, no more fights, no more inappropriate foods, no more locker-room hazing, no more loitering in the halls… it would be terrific for everyone.

    I’m sure there’s not a kid in school who hasn’t broken SOME rule, whether it’s bringing a plastic knife or sharp-edged spoon in their lunch box, or glaring at a classmate in a way that might be construed as threatening, or stealing school supplies in the form of paper clips or pencils. Send ’em all packing, it’s for the best!

    Big savings in heating bills too, so it would be a “green” decision, nod nod nod.

  43. This is just ridiculous. What exactly is this literal zero tolerance crap teaching? Oh yeah, it’s better to lie.

  44. This is so far beyond ridiculous. What are they trying to prove? This is just another case of schools loving their rules more than their students. All anyone learns to is to fear authority and hide the truth. How about getting back to teaching the kids academics, please?

  45. Perhaps parents should pull their children from schools with “zero-tolerance” policies? Or get those policies changed?

    How can a child learn anything in a “zero-tolerance” environment?

  46. Mike, that’s what I was thinking too – it’s time to just shut the schools. Seems most of the kids would learn more from the street than they learn at school anyway.

  47. “School officials apparently explained that if they didn’t enforce their drug policies strictly, no one would take them seriously.” – nothing like teaching kids stupidity at an early age.

  48. I could never allow my child to return to a school with such stupid administrators. They’re the ones who ought to be suspended… without pay. Idiots.

  49. Okay, whichever administrator is responsible for making and sticking to this decision should be PUNISHED. At least as much as what would be equivalent to a suspension from school for a kid — maybe a bad note in his personnel file that was REQUIRED to be submitted to the next potential employer, or something. Also, public humiliation and whatever other consequences are usually associated with a student being suspended, translated into adult employment terms.

    It’s just too easy to for school admins to take the “safe” way out of draconian punishment because there’s really no consequence that comes back on them if they’re overzealous or use bad judgment. Only if they have a long track record of extreme incompetence is anything worse going to happen to them than having to say, “Oh, sorry, we were wrong.” And usually they don’t even do that. But even if they do, it’s too late for the kid who’s already suffered embarrassment, a mark on his behavior record, and lost school time.

  50. I’m beginning to think that starting middle school I might just homeschool. At least my kids will come out with common sense then. *sigh* Someone should petition these morons and point out just how stupid they are enforcing this.

  51. Just remember: School Administrators are answerable to School Boards. And school board member is an elected position. It would be interesting to know exactly who the drivers behind “zero tolerance” policies are. (As well as changes to science or health curriculums.)

  52. ** I take back question 1. Having finally managed to open the handbook there is an exclustion for prescription drugs prescribed to you:

    “Use of a drug by an
    individual authorized by a medical
    prescription from a licensed physician is not a
    violation of this rule. (See Policy 5131.6)
    (Exception: see Policy 5141.2)”

    But OTC drugs are still covered by this policy. No asprin for you!

  53. And to think, this is the school district where our current state superintendent comes from, and he’s pretty dumb too. Let Kentucky annex the whole county so we don’t have to deal with them anymore… 😛

  54. […] Outrage of the Week: Girl Suspended for Touching Pill Hi Readers! Yes, you read that right. A middle school girl in an Indiana, Rachel Greer, was in the school’s […] […]

  55. SKL – I guess that example depends on how sex positive your district is. A boy at my 7-9 school got suspended for having maxim in his backpack (note that he didn’t take it out of said backpack), not because of underage laws, but because someone might have seen and been irrevocably damaged. That school also skirted over the whole sex-pregnancy-abortion-stds-birthcontrol unit in the space of an hour, and the message was mostly: DON’T. So yeah, definitely a “your mileage may vary” issue, in hindsight.

  56. I’ve read so many suspension stories on here, this is the absolute worst.

  57. @SKL & Jaynie

    Where we live, one high school has a clinic inside the building. They are NOT allowed to even answer direct questions, let alone provide condoms. The only referrals they are allowed to give where sex/sexuality is concerned is to a local OB/GYN (well, not exactly local. It’s about 15 miles away. And we’re in a well urbanized area) when a girl shows up pregnant.
    I learned that this is a violation of Title IV, which we normally associate with sports, but which assures equal access to education and educational resources for females.

  58. Okay, time for me to stir the pot. What about kids who are highly allergic to, say, peanuts or bee stings? What happens when kids are out on the playground, sometimes at the far end of the school, with the nurse’s office at the OTHER END. My sister-in-law (a school nurse, by the way) has to carry an epi-pen with her 24/7 due to her severe allergies, and she dreads the day when she gets a call about a kid down due to a bee sting and has to run from one end of the school to the other. What if she can’t get there in time? And the child isn’t allowed to carry a life-saving instrument on their person (because it has a needle), and so runs the risk of dying because administrators think the kid doesn’t have common sense enough to give themselves a quick shot? Kids are really not that stupid when it comes to keeping themselves alive, they KNOW what to do. Just like this girl who knew that taking the pills was wrong and, even after handing it back and being honest about the touching the pill, was still punished for it. Sounds like these administrators have some serious control issues.

  59. Oh yeah, the school nurse thing. In our area, most schools have a nurse 1-3 days per week. The district cut the funding, and the whole area shares I think it’s 10 nurses for something like 20 elementary, 8 middle, 5 high and one middle/high combined. So, office staff is left to dispense meds like ritalin and adderall. They are certainly not all trained to provide emergency care should it become necessary. And then there was the school in CA when I lived there that didn’t make sure my friend’s kid got his ADD meds. He ended up expelled and in jail, based on behaviors that the meds kept in check. And that was when he was a 17 year old junior.
    Oh, the CYA policies… we could just keep on piling…

  60. this is just sooooooooo stupid like the kid who was threatened to have a suspension over a 2 ich LEGO GUN OUR COUNTRY WILL BECOME U. united S. states of M. morons

  61. Obviously this whole topic gets my goat, LOL!!

  62. Definitely, what a magnificent site and informative posts, I will bookmark your site.Best Regards!

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