Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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Drinkin’ in the boys room?

 The penalties for having alcohol on Stafford County school grounds could be less strict next year if the School Board approves proposed changes to the Code of Student Conduct.

Now, any student caught with alcohol on school grounds would receive a minimum penalty of suspension for the rest of the school year. The changes suggest instead including a minimum punishment of a short-term, 10-day suspension. The student would technically receive a long-term suspension, which would be held in abeyance except for 10 days, said Daryl Nelson, director of administrative and legal services.

This would allow school administration a little more wiggle room in applying the penalties–especially for students with a first-time offense and no aggravating circumstances, Nelson said. He added that it could cut down on about 90 percent of the discipline appeals dealing with alcohol.

School Board member Nanette Kidby questioned the change, saying that it treated alcohol differently than drugs, when alcohol is also illegal for students.

Nelson said that society treats drugs and alcohol differently, and that in many of the discipline cases, the student had taken only a few sips of alcohol and that his or her blood-alcohol level barely registers on a breathalyzer test.

The rule, by the way, includes possessing, delivering, selling, distributing, making or using alcoholic beverages and “imitation alcoholic beverages;” being under the influence of alcohol; or driving under the influence of alcohol on school grounds.