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Alabama Teenager Suspended for Taking Motrin
Teen suspended for taking Motrin


News staff writer

Taking ibuprofen for cramps landed a Clay-Chalkville High sophomore with a suspension and a month’s mandatory attendance at alternative school.

Ysatis Jones, 15, took a Motrin pill on Dec. 3 after requesting to be excused for the restroom. She said she was too embarrassed to ask her male drivers’ education teacher if she could visit the main office to take medicine for menstrual pain.

A teacher saw her swallow the pill at a water fountain and reported her.

The Jefferson County school board prohibits students from possessing any prescription or over-the-counter medication without signed administrative permission. The student code of conduct classifies violations as a major drug offense.

Jones was stunned at the punishment she received. She had a clean discipline record, she said, and earned good grades in her classes. She said she felt targeted by the teacher who reported her, and with whom she had taken a class last year, because she was black.

“All I know is she treats the black students differently,” Jones said. “It is unfair. I’m an A-B student and I never get in trouble.”

Rachel Jones, Ysatis’ mother, said she understood why school officials enforced the drug policy but objected to the severity of the action. She has refused to send her child to alternative school.

The student handbook lists a number of disciplinary measures for major offenses, she noted, ranging from a parent conference and detention to corporal punishment and expulsion.

At the alternative school, her child would be physically searched each morning and placed with children who committed offenses such as battery, arson and possessing illegal drugs. Jones wants her daughter to avoid such an environment and maintain a positive attitude about school.

“I don’t want to take a chance on my child,” Jones said. “Blame me. I will sign whatever you want me to sign.”

Clay-Chalkville Principal Randle Cassady said Ysatis Jones had been referred for discipline because she broke the rules.

He talked to the teacher in question about the racial allegation. She became very upset, he said, to learn Jones thought her prejudiced. The teacher sponsors the heritage panel, he noted, which works on black/white relations.

A white teenager who served as a student trainer for athletic teams had been disciplined for the same reason, Cassady said. She was sent to alternative school as well, he added, and did her time.

“The big concern we have is that it may be fine for one student to take over-the-counter medication, but what if he or she gives it to another student and they have an allergic reaction,” Cassady asked. “That is where the liability comes in with us.”

Nez Calhoun, spokeswoman for the Jefferson County school system, said she understands the mother’s concern.

If she had a child, she said, she would be just as worried.

But the school system must convey that infractions of this nature are serious business, she said.

“It is harsh. I will admit that,” Calhoun said. “If we don’t have consequences for aberrations of the rule, then we never will get a handle on drugs in the school.”

Ysatis Jones was to take her finals this week. Her mother hopes further appeals to the school board might alter the punishment’s severity.

“Until somebody stands up and says, `Rethink it!’ nothing will change,” Rachel Jones said. “As of right now, I’m going to go pray and let the Lord guide me on what steps I need to take next.”