The message is simple: If you’re too smashed to drive, you get a ride. If you’re on the other end of that call, you don’t hesitate to come get your friend. That’s exactly what Erin Cox, a 17-year-old senior from North Andover High School in Massachusetts, did when she got a call from an intoxicated friend. Erin’s parents applauded her, her friends admired her, but her school punished her, shares MSN Now on Oct. 14.
North Andover school administrators, citing the school’s zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol, actually stripped Erin, an honors student, of her title as captain of the volleyball team and suspended her for five games. Her crime? No one is really sure.
“But I wasn’t drinking,” Cox told the Boston Herald. “And I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do. Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home.”
Erin’s family, as you might imagine, were outraged over the mixed-message response from the school. The Cox family filed a lawsuit against the school on Friday in an attempt to get the school board to overturn her reprimand, but the district court judge ruled the court had no jurisdiction.
Eleanor Cox, Erin’s mother, is concerned about the effects left on her impressionable teen.
“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn’t do anything wrong,” Eleanor said.
Earlier this month, Cox arrived at the party in Boxford, waded through the crowd of dunk underage drinkers, and found her friend. Police also arrived at the scene, arrested multiple teens and gave out a slew of summons to others. Cox was not arrested; she did not even receive a summons because police understood, even praised, her role in the incident. In fact, Boxford police Officer Brian Neeley vouched for her sobriety in writing in a statement that Erin’s mother presented to the court and to the school.
The school meanwhile is standing firm on their decision, despite a Reddit thread from supporters that has already amassed more than 2,000 comments, most of which are in support of Cox.
Attorney Geoffrey Bok, who represented the high school in court, said once Erin became involved in an incident where police were called, the school had little choice but to administer discipline.
"The school is really trying to take a very serious and principled stand regarding alcohol," he said. "And we all get that. Teen drinking is a serious problem."
Cox family attorney Wendy Murphy vehemently disagrees.
“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,’” Murphy said.