A Chesterfield County Public Schools student is working from home, and will continue to until February, unless the school reconsiders her suspension for having off-brand Tylenol.
Sarah, a student at LC Bird, has been suspended in the past for marijuana. That punishment lasted less than 10 days, the family says.
The school recently gave her a nine-week suspension for Tylenol, which could be until February because of upcoming holidays.
The family says this isn’t fair and that she’s learned from her previous mistakes. Jason, Sarah's father, also says he understands the school’s over-the-counter drug policy, but he thinks this punishment is too tough.
“For them to claim a second drug suspension over Tylenol, I just don't get it," said Jason.
Sarah says this has had a major impact on her life.
"Next year, I wanted to do the tech center, but I know they're not gonna let me if I've been suspended for three months," she said.
The Chesterfield County Public Schools Handbook says:
"No student may have…any over-the-counter drug, even if recommended or prescribed for the student's use...Possessing, using, distributing, or receiving over-the-counter drugs by a student is prohibited and may result in a disciplinary action as determined by the principal."
"My kid's not perfect. Don't claim for her to be. But the system isn't either," Jason said.
We reached out to Chesterfield County Public Schools. A spokesperson told us the district can't comment on disciplinary action.
Robyn McDougle at VCU says both Chesterfield County Public Schools and the family have valid points.
"The school has every right and authority to do that, but if I were the parents, I'd be concerned with the purpose. Removing the child for nine weeks can have a detrimental impact,” McDougle said. “We know having a child out for weeks puts that child at risk of more delinquent acts."
McDougle also says schools have to come up with fair punishments for possession of illegal drugs and over-the-counter ones - respectively.
"We're supposed to be helping these kids grow,” Jason said. “What is she supposed to do sitting here for three months? Feel like she's messed up again when she's been trying so hard this year?"
Jason is awaiting the school's response. He appealed Sarah's suspension early this week with the hopes of shortening the punishment and ensuring Sarah's continued academic success.
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