Parents relieved that son's school punishment over fish oil pill reducedSioux Falls school officials say zero-tolerance policy designed to protect students.
By: KRISTI EATON, The Associated Press
SIOUX FALLS — Sioux Falls middle school student Nic Sutton’s dream of one day earning a scholarship to play for a Division I college sports team seemed to be in jeopardy — all because of a nutritional supplement.
Sutton, a 15-year-old eighth-grader at Memorial Middle School, was punished last week after he gave another student an over-the-counter fish oil pill. Under the school’s zero-tolerance policy on drugs, Sutton was suspended for 10 days and — more alarmingly, said his mother Brandi Lantgen-Sutton — cited for a drug infraction.
Lantgen-Sutton and her husband, Glendon Sutton, worried the drug classification would follow their son into high school and have lasting repercussions. Nic Sutton plays rugby, basketball and football.
“Our way of looking at it was, OK, here’s a child whose dream of his is to go to a Division I school ... and he may have that chance to go to a D1 school. If he were up for a scholarship and say a board opens up a file from a child who did not have a (drug offense) versus my child who did have one, they’re going to close mine,” Lantgen-Sutton said. “That was our big deal.”
The Sioux Falls School District apparently came to the same conclusion, reducing Nic Sutton’s infraction to an insubordination offense on Tuesday, according to Langten-Sutton. Nic was allowed to return to school Thursday and agreed to undergo a drug prevention program tailored to his situation.
Lantgen-Sutton said she supports the school’s zero-tolerance policy and knows school administrators are just trying to do their job. Her issue, she said, was that her son never broke a law and the punishment didn’t fit the crime.
“I’m with the zero-tolerance policy, so long as it’s a drug. If my child goes to school and gives a cough drop to a friend, he can also get in trouble,” Lantgen-Sutton said. “That was our big fuss with it all — this following our 15-year-old up through college over a vitamin.”
DeeAnn Konrad, spokeswoman for the school district, said she could not comment about a specific case, but she did say that students are often offered a reduction in punishment if they meet guidelines and agree to conditions. Konrad said the zero-tolerance policy is meant to protect all students.
“Even if it is an over-the-counter drug, it may be a threat to another student. We certainly have our eyes out and want to protect every student while they are in the school building. Our policies are designed to do that,” she said.