We spend our lives teaching our kids to to the right thing. What do we do when their honorable actions lead to terrible decisions and undue suffering?
Two weeks ago, honor student Erin Cox received a phone call from a friend who was too drunk to drive. After she got off work, she drove by to pick up her friend. Moments after she got there, the police arrived — damaging twelve futures with citations for underage drinking/possession of alcohol, and promising fourteen others that they would receive summons for their alleged consumption of the same thing High School students have been consuming for generations to blow off steam.
Erin, too, was caught up in the sweep. While she was cleared by police, who of course agreed she had not been drinking, North Andover High School had something else to say on the matter! Erin told the Globe:
“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”
Erin, in doing the right thing and attempting to get her friend home safely, had “violated” the district’s “zero tolerance” policy against alcohol. Erin’s new reality became grim in an instant: She lost her spot as Captain of the volleyball team–her good heart got her suspended for five games. Worse yet, she now has an undue stain on her excellent record.
Erin’s mother is worried about the impact this situation will have on her:
“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Cox family has filed a lawsuit, attempting to overturn the school’s poor judgment. The school, however, was going “all in” on this one: A lawyer for the school district argued against the injunction, even claiming falsely that Erin was arrested. The judge ruled the court did not have jurisdiction over the school’s awful decision.
Meanwhile, Erin’s volleyball team has started petitions in support of this kind girl. The community — everyone but the school, that is — is being very supportive. The school is ignoring the message that it is sending by punishing Erin for her desire to not see a friend die in a fiery car crash. Wendy Murphy, attorney for the Cox family, put it best:
“If a kid asks for help from a friend, you don’t want that kid to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you. I might end up in trouble at school.”
Unfortunately, that is the message that is being sent by the school’s irresponsible decision.