Outrage of the Weekend: Student Suspended for “Bloodshot Eyes” After His Dad Dies

Hi Folks — Read it and weep, but not too hard or you may get suspended from school! Two days after a 16-year-old Texan’s dad died, he decided to return to school to feel a little normal again.

Except when he arrived late and went to the office for a tardy pass, the admins noticed his suspiciously red eyes and suspended him for suspected marijuana use. Didn’t matter that he did not appear high, or that no one said they’d seen him smoking, or that there wasn’t any marijuana on him.

His mom took him to a doctor who did a urine test that was clean not just of pot, but of all drugs. So the school rescinded the original decree — a suspension followed by placement in an alternative school till January. And then, eventually, it even apologized.

Anyway, the gory details are in the link. Guess that school never took the Free-Range Kids pledge: We vow NOT to think the worst first. — L.

Advice Needed: What to Do About Drugs at the Playground?

Hi Readers — Just got this letter today and what’s cool is that the writer, Aaron, is asking for your input, not just mine. That’s good because I don’t have a lot of advice for this fellow, except, “Alert the police.” So — let’s see what other great ideas are out there! — L.

Dear Lenore:   I am interested in your advice and the advice of other Free-Range Kids readers about a situation we appear to be having. The area I live in is decidedly suburban and middle class (suburban DC actually), and I’ve never for a moment felt unsafe here, so it’s not like there are junkies lying about in doorways and on the streets. I have no doubt there are drugs around just like anywhere else, but I did not expect them on my apartment playground.

Now, I am fortunate that the back door of my apartment unit opens directly into a small playground, and my kids (6 and 4) are almost always out there playing, most of the time while we stay in and do other things. Last night, early evening, the kids went out to play, and my wife noticed some teenagers acting suspiciously, and so she went out to see what was going on. These kids were smoking something (and no, we don’t know that it was drugs, but tellingly, my 6 year old said they had a “trophy,” so you can guess what that was), and left in an awful hurry after she arrived.

My concern is what this little incident is capable of doing to an otherwise safe and secure community. For obvious reasons, I don’t want my kids to be exposed to open illegal drug use, and I certainly am not keen on them stumbling across dangerous paraphernalia. On the other hand, I don’t want to curtail my kids’ freedom to be kids just because some knuckleheads can’t find a basement to use instead of my playground. I neither want to stand out there every moment my kids are playing nor want to keep them indoors out of fear.

So far, we’ve contacted the apartment management, and submitted a written statement. We’ve also talked to a few of the neighbors about it. I am also considering printing big signs that say things like “No Drugs” and “We’re Watching” as a psychological measure.

Is there anything else you recommend? I understand that the power of community is that people can band together to keep stuff like this out, but I’m not sure we’re at that level yet.

Any advice you have would be most welcome, and if you see fit to ask the greater Free-Range Kids community, I will eagerly await their responses. — Aaron

Me too! — Lenore