Suspended Pekin student's mother speaks out about the energy mint controversy

By WEEK Producer

October 9, 2012 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 1:01 AM CDT

PEKIN, Ill. -- Pekin Community High School and four of its students made national news on the Today Show Tuesday morning all because of an over-the-counter energy mint.

One of the boys disciplined for possessing the mint says the punishment went too far, potentially harming his reputation and his future.

Fourteen-year-old David Johnson is one of four boys who returned to Pekin Community High School Tuesday after being suspended for possessing or ingesting a controlled substance: an energy tablet.

"I think all the boys at that point assumed it was OK to take, because it's not illegal, and it's just like an energy drink," said Allison Felkner, David's mother.

Felkner says she is especially disappointed since David did not ingest the energy mint. When asked about the pill at school, David says he gave it back and said it's a candy that gives you energy.

"Bottom line, my son felt he did the right thing," said Felkner. "He thought he was being honest, and he got punished for it."

The school released a statement that said: "Pekin Community High School approaches consumption of mood-altering substances very seriously given both the health risks at issue and a mission to keep both illegal and legal drugs and substances out of the school."

In addition the school handbook clearly prohibits the, "use, sale, disbursement, consumption and/or possession of drugs and/or alcohol (prescribed or over-the-counter, legal or illegal)"

"If they allow energy drinks at school, then why not a mint or candy," asked Felkner.

All four boys could not attend Homecoming, which Felkner says was hard on her son. David is in the JROTC and will lose a significant portion of his grade for not marching in the parade.

"I think it's a lesson learned not to accept anything from anybody, even if it is candy," said Felkner.

She says it's a lesson learned in an extreme way, damaging her son's reputation with his peers and perhaps sabotaging his military future.

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