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Girl Expelled For Giving Midol to Classmate Sues School District

October 8, 1996

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) _ A 14-year-old girl expelled for giving a Midol tablet to a classmate will be allowed to return to school Tuesday after the school board voted to cut her expulsion to three days.

Kimberly Smartt, an eighth-grader at Baker Junior High School, had filed a federal lawsuit Monday claiming that she was punished because she is black.

``You should not treat students this way for something as minute and as small as a Midol tablet,″ said Carl Lewis, the girl’s lawyer.

Smartt initially was expelled until February after she gave a Midol to classmate Erica Taylor, who is white. Taylor was suspended for nine days and was allowed to return to classes last week; only three days’ suspension were reflected on her record because she agreed to undergo drug counseling.

Late Monday, the school board voted to cut Smartt’s expulsion to three days and said she could return to classes Tuesday. She had served a 10-day suspension before receiving a letter informing her that she had been expelled until Feb. 12. The board reaffirmed the 10-day suspension, reduced the expulsion and voted to allow her to return to school.

It was not immediately clear how the decision would affect the lawsuit.

Lewis said there have been instances in the school district in which white students who distributed drugs were not expelled, and alleged that Smartt was never given the chance to reduce her penalty, as was Taylor.

Fairborn Superintendent Steve Clifton has denied that the expulsion had anything to do with race, and explained that the district’s penalties are more severe for distributing drugs than for possessing them.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton against Clifton, the Fairborn Board of Education and Edward Gibbons, principal of Baker Junior High School. Clifton and Gibbons did not return calls seeking comment.

The lawsuit also asks for unspecified damages.

The school district’s drug policy does not distinguish between legal and illegal drugs, or prescription drugs and nonprescription medicines such as Midol, a combination of caffeine and the common painkiller acetaminophen designed to relieve cramps, headaches and other pre-menstrual symptoms.

Students who do not feel well are supposed to go to the school nurse. Nonprescription drugs are given to students who have a signed parental permission slip on file.

According to the lawsuit, Smartt went to the school clinic complaining of pain and asked for a Midol tablet. The nurse said she would have to get consent from Smartt’s mother.

But Mrs. Smartt said she had previously signed a consent form and returned it to the school to be placed on file.

When the pain intensified, Smartt’s lawsuit said, she took two Midol tablets without the nurse’s knowledge and left.

Smartt has said she took one tablet and gave the other to Taylor, who asked her for it. Taylor has said she did not take the pill.

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