Pubdate: Fri, 02 Mar 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, staff writer


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 

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 year." 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."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth