A student at Lloyd C. Bird High School has been suspended for nine weeks for having off-brand Tylenol in her possession. That means she is not allowed to go back to school until February 2018. Sarah will have to do her school work at home. Her father, Jason, is hoping the Chesterfield Public School System will reconsider and shorten the suspension. He acknowledged that he is aware of the school's over-the-counter drug policy, but he thinks this punishment is too harsh.

Sarah is very concerned because of the impact the long suspension will have on her life.

She wants to go to the tech center next year, but she thinks she will not be able to be admitted because of the two suspensions she has received.

Not the first time

Jason thinks the suspension is for such a long period of time because this is the second time his daughter has been suspended. Even so, he said his daughter learned a lesson from being suspended for less than 10 days for marijuana when she was a sophomore two years ago. The father says his daughter has to sit home for nine weeks even though she has been trying so hard to do better since the last suspension.

What the handbook says

The Chesterfield County Public Schools Handbook says no student may have in his or her possession any over-the-counter drug drugs even if it has been prescribed by a doctor.

The handbook further states that any student having drugs may receive disciplinary action that will be determined by the school principal. Therefore, Sarah's punishment was in the hands of only one person.

After his appeal, Jason is waiting to see if his daughter's punishment can be shortened so she can go back to school before next year.

He thinks the long suspension can be detrimental to his daughter's education.

Robyn McDougle, professor of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University, says both the father and the school have valid points. She added that the school is within its rights and has the authority to give the suspension. However, removing the student from classes for nine weeks can have an adverse effect because the child is put at risk of doing something more dangerous and destructive.

She added that the school should come up with a fair punishment for possession of illegal drugs as well as for medicine that is prescribed by a doctor or bought over-the-counter.

Do you think Sarah's nine-week suspension is too harsh for having Tylenol in her possession at L.C. Bird School in Chesterfield County, Virginia?