When Massachusetts high school senior Erin Cox went to pick up a drunk classmate from a party, she thought she was doing the right thing. However, administrators at North Andover High School seem to disagree. They are punishing her for her action, citing the school’s zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol.
We teach our kids to be responsible and to help others in need. That’s exactly what the 17-year-old was doing when she showed up to help her friend, but her school decided to punish her even though she was doing what any good parent or teacher would encourage her to do.
Cox, an honor student and volleyball star, received a cell phone message from an intoxicated friend asking for a ride home from a party earlier this month.
Earlier this month, 17-year-old Erin Cox, captain of North Andover’s volleyball team, finished work at the Andover Inn and then met friends at an Andover yogurt shop. There she got a cellphone message from a friend who’d been drinking at a party. She asked Erin to come get her.
“Don‘t let friends drive drunk,“ we tell our kids. “If you‘ve been drinking, call mom or dad to come get you — no questions asked,“ we tell them, too. “And if you can‘t call your parents, call a sober friend.”
Erin’s friend called sober Erin. Erin drove to a home on Main Street in Boxford and worked her way through a wild scene of partying teens until she finally found that friend — just as police from Boxford, Haverhill, Georgetown and North Andover showed up. They arrested a dozen underage drinkers and warned another 15 underage youths that they’d be summoned to court for drinking.
Erin Cox was one of those told she’d be summoned for drinking — even though she wasn’t, even though Boxford police Officer Brian Neeley vouched for her sobriety in writing
– See more at: http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/columnists/margery_eagan/2013/10/eagan_school_slaps_teen_for_doing_the_right_thing#sthash.H1lafI68.dpuf
The sober 17-year-old had just finished work at the local yogurt shop, so she went to pick up her friend. Minutes after Cox showed up at the party, police showed up, according to the Cox family’s attorney, Wendy Murphy.
While Cox was cleared by police who recognized her sobriety, her school has given her a harsh punishment.
“But I wasn’t drinking,” Cox told the Boston Herald. “And I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home.”
Zero Tolerance Policies Gone Wrong
It seems that some schools have lost all sense of clear thinking, not to mention fairness, when they implement their zero tolerance policies. Earlier this month I wrote about Kyle Thompson, a 14-year-old who was joking around with his buddies at Harrison High School in Farmington Hills, Mich., last March, when one of those friends grabbed a sheet of paper labeled “Hit List” out of Thompson’s notebook.
As the teacher went to take the paper from Thompson, a tug-of-war ensued, and the teacher ended up accusing Thompson of assaulting her. He was handcuffed, arrested, expelled and will face assault charges.
Then there is the case of Kiera Wilmot, the teenager whose science experiment harmlessly exploded on school grounds. Initially, she was expelled from school and charged with two felonies: “possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds” and “discharging a destructive device.”
Charges were eventually dropped, but what has happened to common sense amongst school administrators?
Punished for Doing the Right Thing
Erin Cox, who dreams of playing volleyball in college, is being punished for doing the right thing, her mother told ABC News.
“She did what she thought was right, and I’m proud of her for that,” Eleanor Cox said.
Is the school district saying that Cox’s friend, who was intoxicated, should have driven herself home in her inebriated state? That is a really dangerous message for the North Andover School District to send.
The Cox family filed a lawsuit against the school on Friday in an attempt to get officials to reverse the punishment. The case was dismissed, but the family is hoping that pressure from supporters will persuade school officials to reverse their decision.
Cox told the Herald she feels “defeated,” but she said she doesn’t regret her actions: “It was the right thing,” she said.
If you agree that Erin Cox’s actions deserve praise, not punishment, please sign our petition urging the North Andover School District to rescind their punishment.
And thank you.