It was an ordinary school day in South Middleton, Pennsylvania. Andrew Figueiredo was having lunch. In addition to the usual contents – sandwich, drink, etc – Andrew had in his bag three dietary supplements. As he popped the pills into his mouth, a teacher spotted him and immediately escorted him to the principal’s office. Andrew had been caught taking unauthorized medications, the school determined. He would be suspended for ten days and not permitted to play soccer for the first half of the season.
When the news was relayed to his parents, they were furious. They petitioned the school, had Andrew’s blood tested to disprove the drug claims and demanded that Andrew be allowed to return to class. He was an athlete taking vitamins to maintain strength and endurance not a druggy taking narcotics to become high. Despite the evidence, the school stood firm, and Andrew’s suspension held. Who was right, the school or Andrew?
Had Andrew actually been taking drugs, the administrators would have been more than justified in suspending him. However, he was taking dietary supplements, products that are regulated as food not medication. True, they appeared to be illicit substances, but upon learning that they weren’t, the school could have adjusted its position. A student was doing something that was good for him and would likely be good for his peers (although I’m not advocating sharing); that shouldn’t be punished. You have to wonder if this would have happened if Andrew’s vitamins had been, rather than tiny capsules, miniature versions of Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Times are changing. Our rules have to change with them.
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