Our view: Beef jerky incident a valuable lessonPublished 8:49am Thursday, March 28, 2013
Ignorance of the rules is no defense.
Three Niles eighth-grade students learned this lesson when they were mildly disciplined for having beef jerky cans that closely resembled cans of chewing tobacco at Ring Lardner Middle School last week.
Principal Doug Langmeyer, known for his fairness, dealt with the situation appropriately.
He sent the students home with their parents and allowed them to return to school the following school day. He also discussed with the students, and their parents, the district’s policy on look-alike drugs.
The policy states that anyone having a look-alike drug would be suspended pending an administrative hearing.
Since the students did not have actual tobacco — the cans contained only beef jerky — Langmeyer opted not to suspend them. Their punishment was, essentially, being sent home about two hours early (one student remained at school in the school office as his parents were unable to be contacted).
Suspending the students would have been an overreaction due to the relatively harmless nature of their offense.
It is worth noting that a fourth student was caught and suspended the same day for having smokeless tobacco hidden in a beef jerky can. Knowing this illustrates one reason the school has the look-alike policy in the first place.
School is no place for tobacco, alcohol or drugs — look-alike or the real thing.
The views expressed in this editorial are those of the Daily Star editorial board.