Dear Dr. Wallace:

At our school, if a student is caught smoking on campus during the academic year, the student will be suspended for two days. That’s a fair rule. This past summer, I was in summer school taking a history class so I could be eligible to play football this fall. I don’t smoke, but during lunch a teacher walked into the boy’s restroom and caught me with a lit cigarette in my hand. The cigarette belonged to a friend who was also in the restroom. He was at the urinal going to the bathroom and I was holding his cigarette for him. I thought I was going to be suspended for two days, but instead I was dropped from my class entirely.

I received a summer school handbook, but I didn’t read it at first. I read it after I got kicked out of class, and it did say that any student caught smoking, drinking or using drugs would be dropped from summer school. I don’t think holding a lit cigarette is as serious as drinking or doing drugs on campus. Why should I be kicked out of summer school for holding a lit cigarette? It’s not like it was crack cocaine or even marijuana, which is still illegal in our state.

My main complaint is that if I had been caught actually smoking (like inhaling!) during the regular school year, I would have served a two-day suspension. I wouldn’t have been kicked out of school. Now I will not be eligible to play football this fall, and I did not even inhale! Would a lawyer help me? I really want to play football.

— Blocked From

Football, Denton, Texas

Dear Blocked From Football: The rule for summer school was that if a student were caught with cigarettes on campus, the student would be dismissed. You broke the rule and were dismissed. It’s plain and simple, unfortunately. The teacher caught you red-handed with this banned substance.

I doubt any attorney could get the rule or the punishment changed. Besides, as a former varsity basketball coach in Kirkland, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Garden Grove, California, I can assure you that your smoking infractions would prevent you from becoming a member of the football team.

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