District punishes student for going to a party to give her drunk friend a safe ride home

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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – A high school volleyball player is facing punishment for doing what she – and many others – thought was the right thing.

drunkErin Cox, a senior at North Andover High School, received a phone call several weeks ago from a friend who was attending a house party and said she was too drunk to drive. Cox went to the party after getting out of work to give her friend a ride home.

Shortly after Cox arrived at the house, the police also arrived and arrested several kids for underage possession of alcohol, according to CBS.

About a dozen underage drinkers were arrested and many more were warned that they would be summoned to court for drinking, the news report said.

Cox was one of those told she’d be summoned for drinking, even though she was reportedly sober.

Even Boxford police officer Brian Neely vouched for her sobriety in a written statement, according to the Boston Herald.

But this did not clear Cox with school authorities.

Citing a zero-tolerance policy regarding student’s presence at functions involving underage drinking, school officials demoted Cox from her position as captain of the varsity volleyball team and suspended her from the team for five games.

The community and her fellow students are upset with the decision, and her family filed a lawsuit against the district.

But a judge ruled that the court did not have jurisdiction over the matter.

“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn’t do anything wrong,” the girl’s mother, Eleanor Cox, told WBZ-TV.

“If a kid asks for help from a friend, you don’t want that kid to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you. I might end up in trouble at school,’” said attorney Wendy Murphy, who is trying to help the Cox family get the school’s decision reversed.

Some argue that the school’s zero tolerance policy goes too far, while others argue that Cox understood the rules and made the decision to violate the policy.

A reasonable school official might ask if there is evidence of Cox participating in the party in any way, or if she was only there momentarily to pick up her friend.

The school’s attorney, Geoffrey Bok, said that once the police became involved the district was forced to take action.

“The school is really trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol,” Bok was quoted as saying in the Boston Herald.

The Cox family still maintains hope that the district will reverse its decision.

“She didn’t do anything wrong. She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her,” Eleanor Cox said.

By Trevor Ten Brink at EAGnews.org

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