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Utah Teen Suspended for Sharing Cold Pill

May 29, 2004

WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) _ Because of a zero-tolerance drug policy, a 13-year-old boy has been suspended from school for 45 days for giving a cousin a cold pill _ even though it had been prescribed for both children.

More than 50 parents and other community members have signed a petition asking the West Jordan School Board to modify its rigid policy, said Heidi Burningham, the boy’s mother.

She said she agreed that her son, Tyson, should not have been carrying his medicine at school, but said officials overreacted with the suspension, which will continue into the new school term when Tyson starts eighth grade.

``Forty-five days is excessive,″ she said. ``My son won’t be allowed back in school until Oct. 17.″

School officials said they could not discuss a specific case, but district spokesman Mike Kelley defended the drug policy as a collaborative work of board and community members.

Schools in some other states may show leniency under zero-tolerance drug policies.

Principals in Sacramento, Calif., have leeway to decide punishment for violations of its drug policy, said district spokeswoman Maria Lopez. Schools in Boise, Idaho, and Memphis, Tenn., also allow principals to adjust sanctions. Some other school districts across the country are reviewing drug-use policies.

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