Pubdate: Tue, 20 Feb 2001
Source: Athens Daily News (GA)
Copyright: 2001 Athens Newspapers Inc.
Address: PO Box 912, Athens, GA 30603
Fax: 706-208-2246
Author: Kevin Conner


WATKINSVILLE -- The mother of an Oconee County High School student is 
not happy about a school system drug policy that dealt her son 10 
days of suspension for possession of the prescription drug Claritin.

On Feb. 9, Oconee high senior Clint Rowland was in class digging 
through his pocket for a pen and pulled out a jumble of other 
objects, including a Claritin pill, according to his mother, Carrie. 
Rowland had a prescription for the medication, which is commonly used 
for sore throats, headaches and nasal congestion.

A teacher spotted the pill and turned it over to Principal Sam Marra. 
Marra immediately suspended Rowland for 10 days for not having filled 
out a form in the school nurse's office stating he would need the 
medication on school grounds, Carrie Rowland said.

''Some of these prescription drugs are considered dangerous drugs,'' 
Marra said Monday. ''I don't know anything about Claritin, but once 
it ends up in somebody's possession, who knows whose hands it's going 
to end up in. We just can't have those kinds of drugs floating around 
our school.''

Superintendent Shannon Adams denied Carrie Rowland's plea to reduce 
the suspension. She also took the case to Superior Court, 
unsuccessfully seeking an injunction to get her son back in school.

Today marks the seventh day of Clint Rowland's suspension. He returns 
to school Monday.

Rowland said her son had been sick, and was absent for the two days 
prior to the suspension. He took the pill to school, planning to take 
it later in the day after finishing after-school pep band and play 
rehearsals, she said.

''We never said he didn't break the rule,'' she said. ''We just felt 
the punishment was a little severe for the offense.''

Rowland has a 3.5 grade point average and throughout his school years 
has been involved in band, school plays, chess club and a school 
literary publication.

''He's a good kid,'' Carrie Rowland said.

The high school student handbook states that students can receive up 
to 10 days' suspension for any drug found in their possession on 
school grounds, with an exception made for students who plan to use 
prescription drugs and report that fact to the nurse's office.

Carrie Rowland felt that because the policy's wording calls for ''up 
to 10 days'' of suspension, a lesser punishment could have been 
allowed for her son.

Marra said Rowland is not the first student suspended for having a 
prescription drug on campus.

The policy ''pertains to all medications,'' Marra said, explaining 
that a 10-day suspension is a uniform punishment given to all 
students who commit similar violations. Marra pointed out that 
students who violate this policy can make up classwork missed during 
the suspension.

Adams said the policy would be more stringent in the case of a 
student caught with an illegal drug like marijuana. In that instance, 
a student could be turned over to police, appear before the school 
system's disciplinary tribunal and face possible expulsion.

''There are very clear-cut procedures for handling prescriptions,'' 
Adams said. ''It's outlined in the handbook and administrators and 
teachers go over the handbook with students at the beginning of the 

School policy aside, Carrie Rowland just wants her son back in class.

''I'm frustrated,'' she said. ''And I know there's nothing I can do 
to help my child.''
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