Mother Appeals Action

January 23, 1991

A Westminster mother whose 5-year-old daughter was suspended from kindergarten for possession of prescription heart medicine said she would appeal the punishment.

"It was senseless to hand out that kind of punishment to a 5-year-old," she said. "It would have been better to use the incident as a learning experience."

Carroll school officials suspended the Westminster Elementary kindergarten pupil and a classmate for two days after learning the two had exchanged a prescription bottle on a school bus last week. The girls returned to class yesterday.

The mother said her daughter offered her the medicine when she returned home from school. After learning her daughter had taken a couple of the tablets, the mother took thegirl to Carroll County General Hospital for monitoring. There were no problems.

Larry W. Thompson, Westminster Elementary principal, said he believed the girls were given a light suspension because of their ages. The decision, he said, was made by administrative officialsafter he informed them about the incident.

Under Carroll's drug policy, students found in possession of drugs or alcohol may be suspended up to five days, school officials said. The suspension is accompanied by a mandatory referral to an alcohol and drug education program.

The policy includes look-alike substances and the unauthorized use of prescription drugs. Students face more stringent punishment forsubsequent incidents, school officials said.

"I don't know why they felt they had to do anything," the mother said. "No school personnel would have ever known about the incident unless the other mother called. They did not see anything. The transaction happened on the bus."

The mother said the suspension has meant nothing to her daughter.

"I tried to explain it's punishment," she said. "But it's not really punishment when she's at home playing with her Barbie dolls. I didn't punish her. We explained it to her and tried to talk about drugs -- so she could better understand the situation."

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