A 14-year-old expelled from school for giving a Midol tablet to a classmate claimed Monday in a federal lawsuit that she was punished because she is black.
"You should not treat students this way for something as minute and as small as a Midol tablet," said Carl Lewis, the lawyer for Kimberly Smartt, an eighth-grader at Baker Junior High School.
Smartt was expelled until February after she gave a Midol tablet to classmate Erica Taylor, who is white. Taylor was suspended for nine days and was allowed to return to classes last week; only three days' suspension were reflected on her record because she agreed to undergo drug counseling.
Lewis said there have been instances in the school district in which white students who distributed drugs were not expelled, and the suit alleged that Smartt was never given the chance to reduce her penalty, as was Taylor.
Fairborn Supt. Steve Clifton has denied that the expulsion had anything to do with race and explained that the district's penalties are more severe for distributing drugs than for possessing them.
The school district's drug policy does not distinguish between legal and illegal drugs. Midol is an over-the-counter combination of caffeine and the painkiller acetaminophen used to relieve cramps, headaches and other premenstrual symptoms. Students who do not feel well are supposed to go to the school nurse.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Dayton against Clifton, the Fairborn Board of Education and Edward Gibbons, principal of Baker Junior High School. Clifton and Gibbons did not return calls seeking comment.
The school board was meeting in private Monday night to hear Smartt's appeal of her expulsion.
Judge Walter Rice scheduled a hearing for today to hear Lewis' request to allow Smartt to return to class immediately and be allowed to make up all assignments.