Volleyball captain demoted, suspended after coming to aid of drunken friend

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NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – It’s a zero tolerance policy that appears to make zero sense with regards to one student’s recent punishment.

While police found no issue with high school senior Erin Cox when they broke up an underage-drinking party, the school district delivered harsher judgment. According to WBZ in Boston, a friend at the party who was too drunk to drive had called Cox for a ride. When Cox arrived, police were right behind her.

Cox hadn’t been drinking and was not in legal trouble while many other students were. But in the aftermath, Andover High School said that she violated the school district’s zero tolerance policy against drug and alcohol use. Subsequently, Cox was demoted from her captaincy of the volleyball team and suspended for the next five games.

In addition to being captain, Cox has also been lauded as a two-time all-star according to a local newspaper and helped lead the school to its second championship appearance in school history last year.

Her mother said she was distraught and puzzled because she hadn’t committed any misdeeds.

“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn’t do anything wrong,” said Cox in an interview with WBZ.

A student handbook (pages 11-12) lays out the guidelines for all students and a different set of guidelines for student leaders. It appears that a technicality is the root of the problem.

The handbook states: “A student leader who is disciplined or involved in an incident involving alcohol/drugs (controlled substance) violation at ANY TIME, including summer vacation, will lose his/her leadership position in addition to any other consequences.

The first violation results in removal from the activity for four weeks, but has a stipulation that if the student agrees to attend a chemical dependency program that the consequences will be reduced to two weeks. However, one may think it’s silly for someone who hadn’t been drinking to agree to undergo substance abuse counseling.

The Cox family has filed a lawsuit that the school district immediately argued against. A judge ruled that a court did not have any jurisdiction in this case. When contacted for comment, neither the school district nor its attorney provided one to WBZ.

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  • bkgok

    The school is seriously reaching if they feel this punishment is just. Why would they punish someone who was going to be doing the community a service by keeping an underage and intoxicated driver off the road?

  • John Wilferth

    It is tragic when educators become stupid and hide behind “zero tolerance.” Yes, she was there to perform a civic duty (keep an impaired person off the roads). Saying that she was “involved” in the incident sends the wrong message – on may levels.

    • Gazel

      I respectfully disagree….Unfortunately, even if the girl only had good intentions she made an error in judgment by going to an underage party; she could have sent an adult or at least had an adult take her to pick up the friend. If no one is telling her this, that is the injustice.

      • Tricia

        Oh sure and the next time there would be no call for help until it was too late and somebody would up dead from being in an accident involving a drunk driver.

  • Myra

    The laws always protect the guilty and here is a girl who is trying to do the right thing and help a friend…..what is wrong with her school and society? If she had not been drinking the school handbook rule does not apply to her action. Jeez…what is wrong with North Andover High School…get a life and be fair and balanced!