Kombucha: Violates the School Drug and Alcohol Policy leading to Suspension of Child in Newport Beach

Yes,  You read the title correct.
Outrageous you say.  I agree.  Horrible you say. I agree.  Does this make you irate.  It does me also, especially since it is so personal.  It happened to my son.  Could it happen to yours?

My son, a 7th Grade student in the Newport Mesa School District, was pulled into the Vice Principle’s Office and Interrogated with a Police Officer present.  All before I even received a phone call.

What was his crime….Drinking Kombucha at School

Apparently, He violated the School Drug and Alcohol Policy.  The “deemed” alcoholic beverage was confiscated from my son during lunch on Tuesday, October 9th because it was in a glass bottle.  On Wednesday, he was isolated from his peers and classes and spent the whole day in the Vice Principles office.  I have no idea what was being said during this time or how it made him feel during this as I was not there.  He had no advocate.  They were not listening to anything he had to say.  They treated him as a criminal.  My son, a Honor Student..apparently labeled an alcoholic that day.

Every parent hates a call from the school.  Whether its the nurse, counselor, or principle, it still causes my heart to sink.  AND I will admit, I have had many.  Unfortunately, they HAVE previously been due to my son’s difficult behavior.  He has ADHD and has struggled with it all his life.  Its not his fault.  I fed him a diet of processed food and although I tried to regulate sugar consumption at home…He would find ways to consume it.  He was addicted.  After problems myself with the Western Diet I began to get in touch with My Real Foodie.  8 months, and many Real Food books later.  A new lifestyle was born.  My son, at the time was visiting his Dad and Grandparents over the summer has only been receiving the benefits of Real Food for 2 months now.  I feared for his transition.  I feared the school.  I feared the kids at school.  I feared he would Fear all of this.

So, I traded in his Sugar Addiction for a Kombucha Addiction.  Great Trade if you ask me!

The best part…He LOVES our new lifestyle.  He LOVES Kombucha.  He LOVES educating the other students on the detriments of processed food and sugar.  He has fully embraced being “different”.  I am one proud momma!  So, how does he deserve this?

On Wednesday morning around 10am, I received a call from my sons Vice Principle.  She informed me that Gavin had a beverage taken away yesterday because it was glass.  The School Security gave the bottle to the Vice Principle after taking it from my son as he was concerned because it said it Contained .5% alcohol.  He also overheard my son reading the label to the students and one of the kids asked Gavin about the Alcohol, In which my son said. “Its not the type of alcohol you get drunk from, Its from fermenting”  Now, I realize it does contain trace amounts of alcohol, but I have never sat down my son and had a talk with him about consuming it and the alcohol.  Perhaps I should have so he could have defended himself better.

The phone call I received from the Vice Principle was very abrasive.  It went like this:  Hello, Gavin had a beverage taken away yesterday at school and we are going to be sending him home today because on the label it says this contains .5% alcohol and this violates our Drug and Alcohol Policy.  He will be suspended for 5 days.  I then, informed her that Kombucha:

  1. Is not deemed by the FDA as an alcohol beverage.
  2. He can purchase it himself at the store.
  3. The alcohol produced is due to fermentation and that label HAS to be there for FDA.
  4. I brought it to him for lunch.

Well, I wasn’t getting far.  She was not listening to me.  Finally, fed up and with my heart beating fast I informed her.  “My son will not be treated this way, I do not like the way you are verbalizing this, I will not have you telling my son this is a drug and alcohol when it has not been researched yet and If they suspend him, there will be a fight. She would not listen to me and informed me that I would have to Appeal this considering it was turned into the district.

 Very upset, confused, alone and lost.  I decided to go for professional advice, Sarah at The Healthy Home Economist.  (Read her tell my story HERE, Child-suspended-from-school-for-kombucha-in-lunchbox)  Sarah has been so pleasant, helpful, and supportive to me in this horrible situation.

My son came home from school and we were discussing the day over lunch.  That is when I got more of the story.  My son informed me:

  1. There was a Police Officer there, who informed him drinking this beverage is against the law.  The beverage he has was illegal.  AND Tried to enroll his in a AA for kids??!! AND talked to him about Drinking and Medications and asked him right out…If he takes any pills also!!! WHAT!?!  Where am I..Oh, and Home..Thinking all is well.  Or perhaps this happened after I received the call.  Why wasn’t I informed my son was being talked to like this?  Why was I not informed there was a Police Officer there?  Why wasn’t I invited to come right away BEFORE all of this transpired.  Who are they to ask my 11 year old these questions!!?
  2. The school Vice Principle told him they were looking into transferring him out of that school.
  3. They pulled his school record and went over his “problematic” history.  Obviously, trying to make him feel responsible and teach him a lesson???

I immediately began calling the school repeatedly to speak with the Principle.  Finally, I was able to get in to see the Vice Principle.   My meeting with her made me feel, ridiculous, confused, outraged, ridiculed and blamed.  I can only imagine how it made my son feel.

She played down the whole incident.  She even told me that there was NOT a police officer there, It was simply the school’s officer.  Which, after another meeting with the PRINCIPLE today, it was a uniformed officer that DOES work for the Police Dept.  WHAT!?!  She also acts like this wasn’t really a big deal.  She informed Sara, at The Healthy Home Economist (She called them, doesn’t she rock!!!)  that my son never got suspended, however he signed a 5 day suspension form.

We met with the Principle today and informed her how we felt the whole process was handled so poorly.  We told her we were hurt and NOBODY has apologized to my son or us.  She apologized on behalf of the school and offered to bring in my son to apologize to him in person, but what about how this was handles.  I am still upset, what if my son gets teased now?  What if he gets treated as a troubled kid from now on.  What about overreacting and doing this negative interrogating without me present.

The principle was very nice and receptive.  She seemed to understand me, but held firm to they just have no tolerance when it comes to Drugs and Alcohol and that they had to react this seriously so that other children didn’t think its okay to bring alcohol.  “We are super strict and don’t even let the kids where shirts that reference alcohol or drugs.” Okay, I am glad for that, but I don’t really see this situation as the same thing.  I really don’t know WHAT would make me feel better about this or that this was okay, because I don’t and it wasn’t.  It really made me look into home schooling, but I don’t want to further make my son feel bad.

Share your thoughts with me, Would this upset you?  Has anything like this happened to you?

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70 thoughts on “Kombucha: Violates the School Drug and Alcohol Policy leading to Suspension of Child in Newport Beach

  1. This is ridiculous. And the product of misinformation and poor education. I’m happy for you and your son that the principle apologized. I’m not sure what I would have done had this happened to me – I’d probably have called a lawyer right away just because it’s so ridiculous (I mean, if the FDA says it’s not alcoholic, how can the school or the police say it is?). Thank you for sharing your story with the public.

  2. I would be outraged and pursue it to the furthest extent possible. The biggest issue here, as I see it, is not their lack of knowledge about what does or does not constitute alcohol, the issue is pulling an 11 year old boy in, without benefit of parental support or counsel, to interrogate him. This is not even done to criminals. However, that being said, I am sure if you look into Newport Mesa School District and State Dept of Ed policies their stances will be that your child has no rights – and neither do you for that matter. Homeschool the kid. He will thank you some day. It is easy to duplicate a public school education without any of the hassle. There are plenty of support groups in CA and lots of people to offer support. Good luck on your journey.

  3. were you aware of the ”no glass” policy before you sent him to school with it? If the school has a zero-tolerance for alcohol, why wouldn’t you take it out of the bottle that states it HAS an alcohol content?

    • I was not aware of a no glass policy and when I asked the Principle if there was a No Glass policy and she said “Its just dangerous, what about metal” so I still don’t know. I am going to check though! I just didn’t think to tear off the label because I don’t consider (and either does the FDA) Kombucha alcohol.

    • I guess your child is the one student who doesn’t have to follow the school policy. A zero-tolerance policy on alcohol means NO ALCOHOL, regardless of what your interpretation of it is.

      • Hi JJ. On the contrary, I am not the type of parent who thinks Rules apply to everyone but my son, I encourage him as a young man to follow the rules and take responsibility for his actions. We have and enforce our own rules at our own home. According to your statement, that would mean people could not bring anything with Vanilla Extract, Apple Cider, Apple Juice, Vinegar, or Fermented vegetables. They have a Zero Tolerance Alcohol and Drug policy which is Great! However, to me..this means Alcohol..the type you buy at a liquor store, TRUE alcohol deemed so by the FDA. Obviously there is a huge difference in Vanilla Vodka and Vanilla Extract. Or perhaps they should get the same treatment? What if Rubbing Alcohol is brought to school?

  4. I am appalled that your son was interrogated by the school et al without you present. Furthermore I am appalled, that they treated him like he had done something criminal and it seems that they would not allow him to fully explain. All the school had to do was google Kombucha and read the explanation on Wikipedia as to what it was about if they were unfamiliar.

    What is even more disturbing to me is the lack of caring and common courtesy that should be automatic coming from teachers and school administrators.

    The .5 % of alcohol issue could be laid to rest by testing the actual content. I doubt that the percentage is even that much. What about the written ‘policy’ the administration referred to? I seriously doubt it states that Kombucha is not allowed on school grounds due to it’s alcohol content.

    Regardless, the bottom line is that it appears the administration saw an opportunity to brow beat a young man for his beliefs and bullying is not ok no matter the source. Kudos to you for sharing your story and kudos to your son for his healthy choices!

  5. I’m so sorry this happened to your son, I feel it was handled very irrationally, I believe you should have been called immediately, before any interrogation began, especially before a uniformed officer was brought in. My son is also 11, his name is also Gavin. I asked him how he thought he would have handled being in the situation your Gavin was and he said, “not good, I would have cried”. It broke my heart. This can happen to anyone’s child, it’s wrong and your right to be upset, outraged to NOT be ok with it. You know your son best, you’ll do what you feel is right for him, you’ll support him. If you can, and you talk to Gavin about it and he’s ok with it, consider homeschooling, we do (for entirely different reasons than issues with the public school). Again, my heart goes out to you, but you should be proud that you are doing what’s right for your son.
    Hugs!
    Tanya

  6. Sounds like the school works under Obama rules (treat people like crap, make up your own rules, then lie when confronted with it). It’s disgusting that any school would react this way without doing the least little bit of research. It’s also sad that schools are teaching our children how to make decisions, yet they are unable to make reasonable decisions themselves. I pulled my children out of public school after similar types of issues that could have easily been solved. Before long, the schools will make it illegal to bring your own water or food to school, too.

    • The real issue is the way the school district treated a child . It was reprehensible! Thank goodness most kids are resilient and hopefully he’ll have learned that intolerance is everywhere and learn to fight back in a positive way. Possibly by helping wrongs done to others. Bless you both and keep your chin up

  7. This would upset me greatly. I have been to the school for different things for my children (I have 3 daughters , two have graduated from public school and my youngest is being home schooled since she was 11, she is now 12), from 3 other girls bullying my oldest to boys antagonizing my middle daughter to 2 hours of homework every night cutting into our family time. The administration always listened, but would not even consider our suggestions. We decided that our child was better off being home schooled, it was the most wonderful decision we have made. Our daughter loves it and does well, her confidence has grown, I think more than it would have in public school. I don’t know what I would have done in your place, possibly a lawyer. It sounds like the administration at your son’s school is ignorant when it comes to real food and true nutrition. We found with our daughter’s school that it is easier to educate her ourselves then to beat our heads against the brick wall of present day educators.
    I hope that whatever you decide you know that you have made the right decision for your son. Follow your instinct and you will never fail. Stay strong.

  8. PLEASE start a petition on Change.org to stop this kind of asinine behavior. This story is so sad and only proves that the system is irrational, at best, and criminal to feed kids garbage and then treat them like villains for making healthy choices. If it was me, I would have been outraged and made a public outcry about it, too. I’m glad you have shared your story…keep making these healthy choices for you and your family and stand firm in your decisions. Don’t let them bully you. Take action. If you start a petition…I will definitely sign it! Best of luck to you :)

  9. Oh my kids would so be out of that school and I’d make a stink unlike anything they have ever seen!

    It’s fermentation, people! Next are they going to start confiscating everyone’s yogurt, kimchi or sauerkraut?!

  10. I would be livid. They blew it way out of proportion. Your kid is going to have major distrust of authority now and who could blame him. Well the fact that people in authority are not always right or reasonable is a lesson he would have to learn anyway. Lesson 1 no interrogation by police without mom or lawyer. Sad to say but absolutely necessary. Lesson 2 how to hold your head high when you know you are not wrong. I’m not sure dramatizing it further within the system would be fruitful, I guarantee this isn’t their first ho round

    • I read the release. They are (stupidly) standing by their “alcohol policy”. Plus there has been no public apology for their egregious reaction to a non issue. I don’t think covering their a$$ in the face of a possible public backlash $hitstorm is ” caving “. That is precisely why people often home school their kids if they can, the school system has become arrogant in their power and never admit wrong doing. Saying they are going to look at policies means they will write themselves a report that justifies their actons

  11. I am a PhD chemist and a Kombucha fan. I only bring up the my chemist background for two reasons: (1) it would be impossible to remove that tiny bit of ethanol from Kombucha without destroying it even if they wanted to do so. (2) given the fact that most flavor bases used in beverages and cooking use ethanol as a carrier solvent I wouldn’t be surprised if most nonalcoholic beverages are not 0.5% ethanol and just do not list it since it is not even considered a major component. Think vanilla extract.

    • Marc; you are absolutely right, on all counts. Our Guava Mango Búcha, the flavor that the boy was drinking, and a big favorite amongst lots of young people, contains between 0.20% and 0.25% alcohol – a number so low that our outside lab using their Gas Chromatograph has trouble measuring it. Thanks for your comments….Bern, Founder of búcha Live Kombucha

  12. I’ve homeschooled for 22 years. My oldest had ADHD. He’s starting graduate school now. My second oldest is working on his PhD. Neither ever went to school because I used to be a teacher and saw what happened in the schools. Write me if you need help getting started.

    • Hi there… I’m also so sorry this happened to you and your son… However, it does not surprise me. I’m also a former homeschooling mom and just like LM, am available to help you should you consider this option and want support getting started. I’m also a CA credentialed teacher (recently laid off) and I’ve seen various over reactions by administrators that have led to gigantic messes and injured families! Most commonly, parents submit to an administrator’s ( or teacher’s) irregular behaviors, as they dont realize the options that exist coupled with being intimidated. Ugh! Although I hold two credentials – I am a strong advocate for the right to homeschool in California. Why? Basically … Parents have rights… They are their child’s first and most important teacher and I’ve witnessed way too many irregularities in the school environment. F&F…for what it is worth… My recommendation is hire an attorney and consider homeschooling. The very best to you and your son…

  13. It’s illegal to interrogate a minor without the parent present. It’s like having the right to have a lawyer!!! You have a law suit. Take it to the top. Stand up for your kid. He deserves it. If you stand up, he will learn to stand strong for himself. Don’t back down.

    And homeschooling is the best gift you could ever give your child. I home=schooled my son for only one year. During that year he studied everything and anything he was interested in. He developed a love of learning and a curiosity well beyond his years. Although he never graduated from high school he is now a practicing naturopathic physician!!!

    School has become a place we stick kids so we can go to work. … And and place where kids who are bright, creative, and gifted are tormented and worn-down til they are willing to allow themselves to be pounded into the hole of conformity.

    And I was a teacher, certified and all that good stuff.

    Take back the power. Stand up. You will be so glad that you did!!!

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  15. For sure that would upset me, a lot!
    And worse than such a horrible mistake, is making it even bigger by trying to deny it.
    What occurs to me after reading such a story at The Healthy Home Economist and also here, is that now the school should provide a kind of informative lecture about all the benefits of Kombucha- a healthy beverage, for “all” the teenagers studying at that school (which should be open to their parents too.) To talk, they should invite someone expert on this subject, like Sarah-The Healthy Home Economist, for example. The school should give all the support for that to happen as a good thing (knowledge) that can came out from a bad thing (ignorance). That could be one way the school should provide to redeem for making such a horrible mistake to their student, and repay at least for part of the damage they caused not only to him, but to his family.

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  18. Ok I read this and I have to say, congratulations on standing up and fighting for your son’s rights. This was a test and believe me you passed it. He now knows that his Mum will stand up and fight the good fight!! Embrace this new level in your life, if your son was teaching kids about clean eating then this makes him a bit of a celeb in that area. Turn it into a positive now and keep him at school. If you pull him out you may be giving him the impression that he has something to be ashamed about. Take it to the next level and focus on the good. Maybe you can adk the teacher if he can do a talk on Kombucha with a demonstration?? Good job Mum:))

      • Leslie: thank you for your story. I was very impressed with how you and your son have changed your lives through better food/beverage choices. That is inspirational. Our Guava Mango product typically has an alcohol content somewhere between 0.20% and 0.25%, less than half the 0.5% mandated limit. This number is so low it’s actually difficult to accurately measure. And many other drinks in the marketplace that we all regard as completely ‘non alcoholic’ likely have as much, if not more, alcohol than our Guava Mango. The bottom line here is that your choice of kombucha over say soda is a very smart choice. First, the calories/sugar in most kombuchas, ours included, are dramatically lower than in most sodas. Secondly, the health benefits appear to be significantly greater.
        To encourage your son, I’d be happy to donate a case of our product (mix up the flavors any way you please) to your son’s Real Food Club. Please contact me so that I can arrange. Thanks, Bern Galvin, founder búcha Live Kombucha

      • Thank you Bern. Drinking Kombucha has had tremendous benefits to my family and I and we rave about consuming it regularly. It is truly a wonderful beverage that MANY kids could benefit from. My son in particular finds the beverage very calming and helps him think clearer. Fermented beverages and vegetables have been and continue to be a huge part of our wellness and success in battling various ailments. I cannot do cultured dairy, so finding Kombucha for me was truly a God Send. I appreciate your input as to the true alcohol content of Kombucha. I do hope that helps clarify things so that parents can feel confident about giving this beverage to their children. My toddler insist on having his own bottle of Bucha and knows what his favorite kinds are and where they are located in the store, He is 3. (So don’t change your label or he will be lost.lol) He also does not crave “junk” food or sweets. I feel this is largely due to consuming Kombucha and balancing our gut. My favorite is the Blood Orange although the Verbana Rose is amazing as well. I love your flavors, they are truly original. Thank you for reaching out and offering to donate to his Real Food Club. I will contact you soon and let you know the progress. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, commenting, and showing your support.

  19. Hi, I emailed the school board. Can you tell me, please, if the tea is .5% or .05%? If you have the same tea in your home, can you please look and let me know? Thanks!

      • Thanks for the info. I pointed out in my email that many things we consume regularly contain alcohol, including soy sauce, yogurt, orange juice, etc., and that some of those things have more than that amount of alcohol in them. I supplied links to scientific websites which list the alcohol content of those things. Even if they don’t change their policy, they owe your child and you an apology.

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  21. Pingback: District: No Suspension For OC Student Who Brought Fermented Tea To School « CBS Los Angeles

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  23. Hi Leslie, Thank you for writing about this. As an educator and school psychologist, a mom, a ‘real food’ advocate, and Kombucha lover, I find your story fascinating. Although I am on the East Coast, I’ve tried to imagine the scenario. Many school personnel are as uninformed as most of the public regarding what is in the food and beverages they consume. I could easily imagine this happening in one of my schools. The major issue, and the one I feel would most likely not happen in one of my schools, is the complete lack of communication with you (the parent) during the quick escalation on the part of the principal and other personnel. The very first step should have been to contact you…as soon as your son’s property was confiscated. There should not have been any lag in the communication, and there definitely should not have been any punitive action before (at the very least) a phone conference with you. I, like you, appreciate that school officials take alcohol very seriously. The fact that they do not know the difference between vodka and kombucha isn’t too surprising… but they should know to address this issue with you before assuming your child illegally brought a wine cooler to school. You and I, and everyone reading this, know that they should be confiscating M&M’s before kombucha. I LOVE (I read elsewhere that) your son might start a ‘real food’ group in school to help teach others what you have been learning together. What a way to kill with kindness and sow beauty from an ugly situation.

    • Thank you Jennifer. It has truly helped to have understanding and supportive “real foodee’s” Yes! My son had the wonderful idea of starting a Real Food Club. I love his spirit and that he can turn a negative situation into a positive one. It is important to have more advocates for traditional food and beverages. I hate that most kids do not even think about what they are consuming. It is our jobs as parents to instill good food values. I find it unfortunate that the school system is the reverse, yet quick to complain about kids with behavior issues (even though they give candy as rewards). It truly seems like a vicious cycle. I do hope this story can make a difference and at the least shed some light on this wonderful beverage!!

  24. Thank you so much for bringing this to everyone’s attention! The issue here is that a series of individuals endowed with a public trust were willing to jump off the cliff before all the facts were in – they need to be held to account for the negligent behavior – Newport-Mesa Unified school district – you don’t need an Orwellian press release – you need to just apologize.and own it !

  25. Scary times we live in when police can interrogate a 12 year old over a product he can legally purchase at a convenience store. Yes, there are some very dangerous products legal for sale, bath salts, salvia, but the label on the Kambuca clearly states a miniscule alcohol content of 0.05%, no more than may be in dozens of over the counter products. If we’re moving into a big brother police state then at least we need to get our laws straight.

  26. Quit your bitching….stuff happens and you dealt with it. Based on your response I’m pretty sure your kid is the type to cop an attitude because he’s so “enlightened” about his food choices. I’m sure that you can roll this into an awesome lawsuit and further waste some time and energy…

    • Hi Jonathan, I don’t recall b*&*&*&* however, If my personal feelings on my personal blog bother you, why waste YOUR energy and time worrying about how I spend mine. Thank you for your comment.

  27. If we’re going to be living in a country that jumps to hysteria over everything, then we need to get our laws straight. If the boy legally purchased the product then rational should assume he has the right to bring it to school and consume it. Besides, he’s just a kid! He meant no harm to himself or others. Why put him through this trauma?

  28. So scary that your son was treated in this manner, I have a child in the offending school district and it’s really giving me a wake up call. If you and your son decide to start a real food meet up in the community I’d be interested in attending with my 10 yr old. Good for you for making this public, I’m thankful that you did.

    • Thank you Newport Mom, We will be sure to let you know. I think it would be wonderful for our community. If we don’t teach our kids about nutrition and Real Food, McDonalds and Burger King would love to.

  29. I am so outraged over this. I had no idea a school administrator or officer can interrogate a child without their legal guardian present. I would seriously re-consider where your child goes to school and the type of people who work there and are responsible for setting an example for your child. Kudos to you for researching an alternative way to treat your son’s behavior. Keep strong and forge ahead.

  30. Good for you for changing your son’s diet! I have done the same for my son, and he has shared some of the positive changes of a healthy diet with his friends, one of whom is a member of your son’s grade at Ensign. There is nothing bad and everything good about what you are doing, and I am glad you are standing up for your son and his health! If more of us parents would do this, the schools would have no choice but to re-evaluate their harmful zero-tolerance policies, which are the result of a slippery slope fallacy as an error in reasoning when the policies were established. I support you completely, and if anyone interrogated or ridiculed my son without my knowledge or consent, that person would find him or herself in court or arbitration before he or she knew what happened. Disciplinary action should be demanded against the “school officer” and official who were involved in the abusive treatment of your son, who is not a criminal.

  31. I am generally quite satisfied with having been a public high school teacher for most of my life. Sadly, there are times, like today,
    when I am so very ashamed of the way those in charge of high schools unnecessarily abuse the rights of the students.
    The boy who was threatened with discipline for having a bottle of kombucha tea because it contained 0.5 percent of alcohol, a quantity consistent
    with the vanilla extract used in making muffins, will learn the very sad lesson that schools that claim to teach rationality do not
    act rationally. In many cases hard core adherence to zero-tolerance policies does more harm to young people than would be the case if
    schools acted on a one-by-one basis, evaluating the circumstances in each individual act. Unfortunately, overreaction seems to be
    a very harmful manifestation of zero-tolerance.

  32. I cannot imagine your frustration. This whole incident is upsetting, how could they possibly be soo freaking naive. They handled it poorly and I as a mother would be outraged. I hope this incident helps them handle things better and if I were you I would file a complaint against the vice principal. She was way out of line and did not handle it correctly.

  33. My kids have attended Ensign. In the past, there have been some instances of students abusing drugs or alcohol on campus. (I have seen a 7th grader taken away in a police car for selling drugs) I like the Zero-Tolerence policy. I feel that they are trying to keep the campus safe for all the students.
    This was an usual case, obviously, and the principal has issued a statement to all the parents about the incident. But they did follow the rules that the district had put in place regarding alcohol found on a student. Everyone is so quick to say sue the school…without doing any research….if you are so unhappy with the school, I would recommend homeschooling. Everyone who homeschools seems very happy with their decision!

    • Diane, I agree wholeheartedly! I like the Zero-Tolerance policy as well and obviously the 7th Grader that was selling drugs was a clear cut case. This was a unusual case and I understand that they have procedures in handling these situations, however I still feel that the rudeness and has hastiness of their actions was not Procedure. It is simply not what the procedure was, It was how they handled it. The Vice Principal treated me as an irresponsible parent and an idiot, that was not protocol. You can still “handle” a situation calmly and collected. This was not that case. When in doubt of a substance, proper research should be concluded before interrogating and judging a young child. The school had the bottle for 1 day BEFORE removing my son from class. Why didn’t they look into it before acting? Or phone me the previous day, so I could give them information?

    • You are clearly on the school’s side. You have no idea what this poor child went through and you clearly don’t care. The school needs to be sued and the principal, vice principal, and superintendent need to be fired or resign immediately!

  34. You need to immediately file a lawsuit and demand the principal, vice principal, and superintendent all resign. This is bull crap. If I had kids and this happened to them, I would be in a complete fit of absolute rage. Don’t let them get away with this or spin it to seem as though no harm was done. They need to learn a hard lesson. Get a lawyer and get ready! Take them down!

  35. Leslie, in case the O.C. Register doesn’t post this, here is my response to letter submitted by Anne Hughes of Orange which appeared on 10/22/12:

    I really had a belly laugh after reading Ms. Hughes defense of “district policy” concerning Kombucha. Boy, am I glad my kids are grown and no longer subject to district policy, which seems to be loosely based on the policies of the State Dept. of Corrections. (A tea timeout 10/22/12). But even prisoners, it seems, have more rights than school children.

    Ms. Hughes, I don’t know if you failed Home Ec class, but do you realize that almost all baked goods (cookies, cakes, breads, puddings, etc.) contain Pure Vanilla Extract. Pure Vanilla Extra contains 35% alcohol. She thinks that a health beverage with less alcohol than beer is grounds for discipline? Really?

    With this kind of mindset, I propose a new district policy to now include all baked goods which contain Pure Vanilla Extract. No more baked sweets. Period. Can you imagine the horrors of your children getting tipsy after eating too many pieces of cake or too many cookies especially at lunch time? Surely, everyone would agree with this since Pure Vanilla Extract has 70% more alcohol than beer or Kombucha.

    Kudos to Leslie G. with a word of advice. Don’t think you will ever be able to change district policy. The Board of Education is drunk with power after eating to many sweets and believes you child belongs to them, not you! Once your child enters the public school system, you lose all of your parental rights and control to the Board, and they will treat your child as they see fit.

    Margo Gray
    Tustin

  36. What a coincidence, I was just drinking some Kombucha when I received an email about a new comment on this story! Yeah, it has a very slight taste of alcohol, but consuming a level that would intoxicate would be impossible because you would be unable to drink that many bottles. As others have mentioned, there is alcohol in many products, even in fruit left out to over ripen. All this hysteria is foolish.

  37. There are plenty of common products that contain alcohol: many mouthwashes, many gums, hair products etc. The school must take the same action for these violations as well. Also, if you make your argument concise and very specific, you should have more success. Take the emotion oit of your reaction and state facts only. If you can collect evidence of other infractions, like hairproducts or mouthwash, breathmints/spray it may help your case.

    • Oh, and depending on how the policy is written, caffenated products could be considered drugs, bc caffeine is a drug. They may even sell that at the school…chocolate also as caffeine. If it’s zero tolerance and that’s their argument with you, ten zero tolerance I shall be.

  38. I agree w/ this guy: (taken from another comment page @ http://www.ocregister.com/articles/alcohol-374907-kombucha-school.html)

    “So basically, they dragged this 11 year old boy into a room without his parents present, and proceeded to interrogate him in the presence of a police officer about having ‘alcohol’ when the poor kid just had a bottle of tea…Then they threatened him with being referred to a substance abuse program, and with a suspension. Again, without his parents present. And all over a drink that is not an alcoholic beverage under federal law and which can be sold to anyone regardless of age.

    Saying that this was an over-reaction is generous. LET THE LAWSUIT BEGIN.” (emphasis added)

  39. The focus on this case shouldn’t be whether or not Kombucha is or is not an alcoholic beverage. It shouldn’t even be about whether he has a right to bring it to school or if the staff know what it is.. Those are questions that do need to be answered, but not necessarily something to be angered by.
    The part that really needs investigation is how the school reacted to the situation and the poor treatment of the child. No child should have to go through that, especially not without a parent present. If your kid brings something strange to school that they might consider to be potentially illegal, the school should be allowed to stop and investigate. They should NOT be allowed to bully the child or interrogate the child without parental notification and permission. Thats the real crime here, not the fact that the school was trying to prevent “alcohol” from being brought to school, its they way they went about perusing their goal.

  40. Pingback: Minor in Possession of Tea is Suspended from Cali School; Interrogated By Police | Independent News Hub

  41. I realize that this happened a while ago, but I CANNOT believe how terribly your son was treated! Obviously the school board doesn’t know about search engines; if they were to even just Google “kombucha,” maybe they’d be straightened out!

    Anyways, you’re a good mommy for choosing to provide your little guy the best food and drinks that you can. Keep up the good work, and don’t let anyone get you down – in the end, you’re the ones with the enlightened minds and healthy guts! :)

  42. Pingback: If you are going to rant publicly, run it through spell check. | Web Solutions – Strategic Content – Web Design – Client Advocacy – Training

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