Maine Teen Challenges High School's Honor Code

(NECN: Marnie MacLean, Yarmouth, Maine) - A Maine teen accused of violating her school's honor code is challenging that code, and her suspension in federal court.

Yarmouth, Maine is a small coastal town known for its high achieving schools.

Any student who wants to participate in extra-curricular activities is required to sign an honor code.

David Ray, Chair, Yarmouth school committee: "The code covers all types of things, like drinking, being present when drinking is going on, cheating, breaking the law, drugs...all things we as parents hope they make good choices about"

If they violate that code, students face specific consequences, including suspensions from activities. Yarmouth school officials believe this photo shows a 16-year-old student athlete breaking the honor code.

According to a lawsuit filed in federal court, the photo showed up on the internet, and then someone gave a hard copy to the school.

According to the lawsuit, the 16 year old girl in that photo holding a silver can is on the varsity lacrosse team. She says she was brought in to meet with the assistant principal who told her the school knew she had violated the honor code and had been at a party drinking beer. The girl said she told them at first it was a can of soda, but then after questioning she claims left her scared and intimidated, she admitted it was beer.

Michael Waxman, attorney: "This is by the way after they deny her the right to talk to her mother, that's an important piece in my view, as a parent if it happens to my daughter my head will explode"

Michael Waxman is the attorney representing the family, who are not named in the suit. Waxman, who also lives in Yarmouth, and has been an outspoken opponent of the honor code, says this case is an opportunity to challenge its constitutionality.

Waxman: "I don't think the schools should be teaching our kids values. I think that is the parents job."

Waxman is also seeking to overturn the girls three week suspension from the lacrosse team, saying the process the school used to get the teen's confession violated her rights.

Waxman: "How did they get that evidence, a police officer if he thought she committed a crime couldn't interview her without her parents, couldn't browbeat her, at least give her Miranda warnings as to what the possibilities are and what her rights are."

The head of the town's school committee says while he can't talk specifically about this case, historically administrators in Yarmouth have applied the honor code judiciously and respectfully.

David Ray: "I am confident at the end of the day when the dust settles it will be determined that the Yarmouth schools did nothing wrong, the code is legal and this is a waste of taxpayer's money and time to fight this battle."

Both sides will argue the case before a judge next Tuesday.

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