Kids Suspended For ‘Energy Mints’ Making Me Seriously Consider Homeschooling

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The Supreme Court of The United States coined a term, in loco parentis, to describe the relationship teachers and school administrators have to our children when we are not present.  The term, Latin for “in the place of a parent,” grants educational institutions the power to act in the best interests of the students as they see fit, even when those actions might be considered violations of the students’ civil liberties.   Today it seems one school in Peoria, Illinois is on a power trip.

Four students were suspended last week from their classes at Pekin High School for ingesting energy mints at lunchtime.  That’s right, dime-store energy mints.  The candy was caffeinated but perfectly legal, according to state law as well as school rules.   One of the suspended students, Eric McMichael, pointed out the inconsistency in the school’s actions.

“People bring energy drinks to school everyday,” McMichael said. “I see this everyday and we get in trouble for energy mints?”

We send our children to school believing it is good for them.  When the administrators implement dress codes and pass codes of conduct, we don’t question their need.  I sometimes have trouble managing the two kids I have at home, let alone 20 in a class or the hundreds in the student body.   I think schools should have a lot of leeway in deciding how to best handle the group of children they are responsible for, but shouldn’t logic actually play a role in their behavior too?

The school district’s superintendent Paula Davis refused to comment on this specific case, but explained that the school is expected take action anytime students are seen ingesting something that could be drugs.  Reports of the incident say the kids were caught eating the mints, sent to the nurse’s office and found to have elevated heart rate and high blood pressure.  Not that I blame them, my heart races anytime I think I am in trouble too.

Ok, ok, superintendent Davis has a point.  The school must act on suspicion and they don’t need to wait until they confirm before doling out punishment.  I don’t question the school’s right to investigate these mints.   What’s wrong is that they upheld the suspension, even after they discovered the kids were eating energy mints.  On this point, father Jason McMichael got involved.   McMichael said he got a call from the school saying that the “suspensions were still upheld for gross misconduct for taking an unknown product.”  Feels like a case of the school trying to save face rather than admitting they were way too harsh.

In addition to being suspended from classes, the four teens were not allowed to attend homecoming over the weekend.    One of the four students missed an JROTC event which will negatively affect his grade and possibly his scholarship.  What’s the lesson here Pekin High School?  Don’t bring white mints to school because some teacher watches Breaking Bad?  The real lesson is schools, just like parents, need to be able to admit when they were wrong without believing it undermines all authority.  I know, it’s a tough pill to swallow.  But if you don’t, more parents like me are really going to homeschool.

(photo: Julija Sapic / Shutterstock)