A 12-year-old North Texas middle school honor student never imagined her “Good Samaritan” intentions to help an asthmatic classmate struggling to breathe would result in her being punished by her school’s zero-tolerance policies, all because she offered up her asthma inhaler.
Yet Schrade Middle School seventh grader Indiyah Rush, an asthmatic, faces up to 30 days placement in an off-campus behavioral school for sharing her inhaler with Alexis Kyle, 13, the student who had an asthma attack during gym class Tuesday, according to KDFW 4 (Fox). “I was just trying to save her life. I didn’t think I was trying to do anything bad,” said Rush.
The girls, each honor roll students at the Dallas area middle school, wound up in the principal’s office over the inhaler. They received three-day suspensions and disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP) referral placements. However, the district backed down on any DAEP time for Kyle after her parents filed an appeal at a school hearing Thursday, the Dallas Fox affiliate reported. Kyle’s suspension will be treated as three days of excused absences, although Garland Independent School District officials said both girls’ permanent records will reference the suspension in connection with a controlled substance, the asthma inhaler medication.
“The little girl saved her life,” Michael Green, Kyle’s stepfather said about Rush’s actions offering Kyle the asthma inhaler. Green wants the suspension removed from her records: “It shouldn’t be there anyway, she did no wrong.”
Kyle did not know accepting the inhaler was an offense. She told KDFW 4, Rush “tried to help me.” Now, Kyle worries her student files could impact college dreams to attend Baylor. She said: “If they look at it and they see what it says it could affect me going to college.”
Her concerns are legitimate. Breitbart Texas covers the school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to zero-tolerance policies that criminalize the behavior of minors and lead them down a path within the criminal justice system. The resulting paper trail often jeopardizes a student’s future college and/or career prospects.
Like all Texas school districts, the Garland ISD Student Code of Conduct is based on Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code (TEC), which considers Rush and Kyle’s actions an offense. The infraction automatically triggered the mandatory 30 days in DAEP, the behavioral facility described by the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Schooling a New Class of Criminals? for students who commit “virtually any disciplinary violation or certain criminal offenses specified” in Chapter 37.
Breitbart Texas spoke to Garland ISD spokesman Chris Moore, who explained, “In this specific case, this offense is a violation of possession of a controlled substance as defined by the state of Texas.” He added that based on state statutes, it is punishable in DAEP up to 30 days, regardless of what that substance is, whether it is an asthma inhaler or the prescription medication Xanax, marijuana, all of those things are categorized within possession of a controlled substance.
Families get to plead their cases at administrative school hearings. In the bigger picture, Texas Appleseed’s School-to-Prison Pipeline Project Director Morgan Craven told Breitbart Texas, “Even for offenses that are listed in Chapter 37 of the Texas Education Code as requiring ‘mandatory’ punishment, the school district is supposed to consider four factors in determining whether a student should be punished — self defense, intent or lack of intent, prior discipline history, and whether a student’s disability impacts his or her ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct.” Generally speaking, she noted that having an attorney or advocate at a discipline hearing “can help to ensure that these four factors are considered before punishment is assessed.”
In Kyle’s case, her family contested DAEP procedurally. Meanwhile, Rush’s outcome remains uncertain. Her mother attended a hearing Friday and viewed the incident video. Although Moore told Breitbart Texas that 30 days is only a benchmark and is “far from, in all likelihood, (what) will take place,” KDFW 4 since reported that Garland ISD officials said until and unless Rush’s mother files an appeal the 7th grader will not be able to attend classes at Schrade and, without an appeal, DAEP will take effect.
Earlier in the week, Rush’s mother, Monique, called the looming alternative school punishment excessive. “I mean they punished her twice,” she said. “They suspended her on top of sending her to alternative school. I mean how could you do a kid like that?”
Despite all that transpired, when asked what she would do if a similar situation happened again, Rush told the local Fox news outlet: “I probably would do the same thing, because I wouldn’t just stand there and let someone die.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.