Punished for Doing the Right Thing
A high school student comes to her friend’s aid, but her school says she was in the wrong.
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The Responsibility Project
When Erin Cox, an honor student at North Andover High School in Massachusetts, got a call from a friend asking for a ride home from a party, Erin didn’t hesitate to drive to the neighboring town of Boxford. Regardless of the fact that her friend was underage and had been drinking, it’s hard to argue that Erin did the wrong thing by coming to her friend’s aid.
But the officials at Erin’s high school felt differently, even though the police who arrived at the party moments after Erin did cleared her of any wrongdoing. As reported by Fox News, Brian Neeley, a Boxford police officer who had been present at the scene, said that Erin had not been drinking and was “polite, articulate, steady on her feet, and very remorseful for her decision to go into the residence but was only helping out a friend that had called her for a ride.” But the school’s officials determined that she was in violation of the district’s zero tolerance policy against alcohol and drug use.
According to Boston’s local CBS station, Erin was demoted from her position as captain of the volleyball team and was suspended from the team for five games. Standing firm on the ruling, North Andover Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Hutchinson said that while some “may decry the Administration’s actions as unfair or inconsistent with the principles of due process, our Administration wholeheartedly disagrees. Rather than simply revoking the privilege [of playing sports], our Administration has consistently afforded its student-athletes a reasonable opportunity to be heard before a disciplinary decision is made.” In other words, from Hutchinson’s point-of-view, Erin should feel lucky she didn’t have sports taken away entirely.
Of course, the suspension could have farther-reaching implications than the five games Erin missed; her intent to play collegiate volleyball could also have hit a roadblock. But her mother is sticking by her decisions, saying, “She didn’t do anything wrong. She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her.”
When asked by the Boston Herald whether she would have handled the situation differently if she could do it over, Erin said she wouldn’t change a thing: “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.”
Is the school district sending the wrong message by punishing a student for doing the right thing? Should Erin have handled the situation differently? Weigh in here.