When Erin Cox, a high school honors student and captain of her volleyball team, got a phone call from a friend in trouble, she didn’t hesitate.
Her friend was drunk at a party earlier this month and asked Cox to take her home. Cox agreed, and went to pick up her friend.
“I felt like going to get her was the right thing to do,” Cox told the Boston Herald. “Saving her from getting in the car when she was intoxicated and hurt[ing] herself or getting in the car with someone else who was drinking. I’d give her a ride home.”
But moments after Cox got there, police arrived at the party as well. They busted several kids for underage possession of alcohol and warned others — including Cox — that they would be summoned to court for drinking, the Herald reported.
Even though Cox wasn’t drinking and wasn’t in possession of alcohol — and despite a police officer vouching for her sobriety in writing — that wasn’t good enough for North Andover High School.
Officials there told Cox that she violated the district’s zero-tolerance policy against alcohol and drug use, Boston’s WBZ-TV reported. So the 17-year-old senior was demoted from her captain’s position on the volleyball team and suspended for five games.
“If a kid asks for help from a friend, you don’t want that kid to say ‘I’m sorry I can’t help you. I might end up in trouble at school,’” attorney Wendy Murphy, who is trying to help the Cox family get the school’s decision reversed, told WBZ.
The Cox family filed a lawsuit in district court Friday. Murphy told WBZ that the school’s lawyer “said out loud, to a judge — and it was a lie — that Erin was arrested.”
Neither the school district nor its attorney could be reached for comment Sunday, WBZ reported.
Meanwhile, Cox’s teammates have launched a petition to support her, and the family is trying to hold it together.
“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her,” Cox’s mother told WBZ. “She didn’t do anything wrong. She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her.”
Here’s a report from WBZ-TV: