letters | punishing a teen designated driver

Time to rethink ‘zero tolerance’

RE “DON’T punish students who give rides to drunk friends” (Editorial, Oct. 19):

The incident involving Erin Cox, the 17-year-old student at North Andover High School who was suspended from the volleyball team after giving a ride to a drunk friend, should prompt a rethinking of rigid school rules. Certainly, there must be strict rules against inappropriate behavior. But state legislators and local authorities can’t foresee every possible situation that may arise when these rules are enforced.

As a former teacher, I was subject to very explicit “lockdown” rules and procedures necessitated by the recent tragedies in schools across the country. When in lockdown, I was required to secure the door to my room and keep the children inside. Since my room had only one exit door and no windows allowing for any possible escape, I’ve often wondered what I might have done if I believed it was in the best interest of the children to flee to the school exit door, just 15 feet away.


At some point in time, decisions need to be made based on experience, logic, and knowledge of the situation at hand. If I had fled with my students and led them to safety, would I have been reprimanded for not following the rules?

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Every situation is different and should be handled on an individual basis. Unless there are unknown facts contributing to the suspension decision, Fox should be reinstated. Zero-tolerance procedures will, at some point, condemn the innocent.

J. Silverstein