Rule change would reward good deeds Carroll County student faced penalty for sharing asthma inhaler

May 09, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County school system announced yesterday that it will consider adding a "good Samaritan" clause to its "zero-tolerance" drug policy in the wake of an incident involving a middle school student who shared her asthma inhaler with an ailing friend.

Christine Rhodes, a 12-year-old honor student at Mount Airy Middle School, shared her asthma medication with Brandy Dyer, 13, who was having a severe asthma attack on the bus ride home from school April 22.

Christine's parents said they were told at first that their daughter's school record would be marred for three years because she unwittingly violated a policy against distributing prescription medication to schoolmates. But after public criticism the policy's inflexibility, school officials decided to review the policy.

Christine's middle school record will show that she distributed prescription medication to a student during an emergency and that the act was a "technical violation" of school board policy. The record will also note that disciplinary action was waived.

Under school board regulations, sharing prescription medication is punishable by suspension and mandatory drug education or treatment programs. High school students found guilty of violating the policy are subject to being banned from extracurricular activities.

Under state law, school records are confidential. The incident will not be mentioned to Christine's subsequent schools or employers, school officials said yesterday.

"You have to have rules and regulations, of course, but you have to expect administrators to use common sense and good judgment in enforcing them," said Gary Dunkleberger, assistant superintendent of instruction for the Carroll County public schools. "I believe that was done in this instance."

The school board's zero-tolerance policy is explained in a student code of conduct. Its intent, Dunkleberger said, is to prevent children who are incapable of exercising medical judgment from sharing prescription medications with their classmates.

FTC "We understand why these policies were put in place and how difficult it is to anticipate every possible situation, but we do believe these policies can be improved upon," Laura Rhodes, Christine's mother, said yesterday.

"So, in a way, I'm glad that this incident will be noted on Christine's record. If we took it off her record and acted like this incident had never happened, there would be no incentive for review of the regulations."

Zero-tolerance policies have come under fire recently because they give principals scant leeway. Some educators say such regulations send the wrong message when they are enforced without flexibility.

Pub Date: 5/09/98

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