EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 14, 2013

North Andover senior punished for helping drunk friend

By Sara Brown

---- — North Andover High School demoted senior Erin Cox from being captain of the volleyball team and suspended from playing for five games for helping out a friend.

Two weeks ago, Cox received a call from a friend at a party who was too drink to drive. When she got there to pick up her friend, North Andover police had also arrived. Police arrested several students for underage possession of alcohol, however, Cox was cleared by police for not drinking or in the possession of alcohol.

North Andover High School saw things differently. They believed Cox violated their strict policy against alcohol and drug abuse and punished the honor student according to WBZ-TV.

“She’s very fragile and I’m worried about her. Very worried about her. She didn't do anything wrong,” Erin's mother, Eleanor Cox, told WBZ-TV on Sunday. “She did what she thought was right, and I’m very proud of her."

The family has hired attorney Wendy Murphy to help overturn the school's decision and filed a lawsuit on Friday. A school lawyer argued against the lawsuit and the judge ruled the court did not have jurisdiction.

Others have voiced their support for the high school senior.

"I felt really bad for Erin because she honestly just wanted to help her friend," Cara Reiley said. Reiley is Cox's neighbor. "In my eyes, Erin's a hero and I think she should be rewarded for doing the right thing which I do believe she did, rather than being suspended and punished."

Reiley said Cox is a good kid and hardly ever gets in trouble.

"She is a really nice and caring person. That's exactly why she went to that party to help someone else out. I know she loves volleyball and I would watch her playing with her sister Emily outside or her dad every day getting better. It's sad to see that being taken away from her," Reiley said.

Reiley fears this sets a bad example to other students who might be in the same situation in the future.

"I do think it sets a bad example, drinking and driving is not OK and every chance that people get to help out a friend in a situation like that, absolutely should. It's embarrassing that our school is basically saying 'we don't care if you drink and drive.' I hope that students won't be afraid to help out a friend after all this and realize that the school is making a horrible decision. Erin's decision could have saved this friends life, and you can save one too if you make that step to help out a friend," Reiley said. "It doesn't make me proud to be an alumni."

The school district could not be reached for comment Monday.

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