After administrators of a high school in Dallas County, Mo. found and read a junior girl’s diary, they suspended her for the rest of the 2014 calendar year because she referenced marijuana.
The reference mentioned the girl’s desire to experiment with the drug and her consideration to bring it to school, but no marijuana was found in her possession and she was not given a drug test. Despite this, the administration listed the cause of suspension as “possession of a controlled substance.”
Though the suspension happened on May 9, Tom Grayhorse, the girl’s father, didn’t come out to the public with the information until recently.
According to The Springfield News-Leader, Grayhorse’s daughter Krystal was originally suspended for only 10 days because she had never gotten into trouble before the diary discovery. The 10 days turned into a longer suspension and Krystal was unable to finish her junior year. Grayhorse thought when the new school year started the administration would lift the punishment to let Krystal graduate with her class in May instead of holding her back another semester. They didn’t, increasing Grayhorse’s frustrations and desire to go public as he appeals the length of the suspension.
District officials report that Grayhorse has failed to disclose the whole story but can’t reveal the information themselves due to privacy laws. Superintendent Robin Ritchie did clarify, “Anything that’s drug-related or alcohol-related, we are going to have zero tolerance.”
Social media users have taken alarm to the girl’s suspension, wondering why the administrators read her personal journal and what right they had to suspend her when she had no drugs in her possession.
A zero tolerance policy makes sense when a student is caught with a substance or is tested positively for being under the influence. Though the specific content of the diary is unknown to the public, the Dallas County school district seems to have taken its policy too far by harshly punishing a student’s ideas instead of actions. This raises serious implications for how other administrations will interpret their own zero tolerance policies.