Jenny Hoped To Contribute to a Brand-New School

Jenny Hoped To Contribute to a Brand-New School
Posted by FoM on April 29, 2000 at 06:46:04 PT
By Christine Haughney, Staff Reporter 
Source: Alabama Live
Events that began with a drug dog barking at her car have changed Jenny Hammock's perspective. When Jenny Hammock sleeps, she dreams under blue sheets with yellow stars. When she awakens, she sees sky-blue walls and corkboards filled with photos of wide-smiling friends. Math and volleyball awards stand behind a tall porcelain doll on her bookshelf. 
The only sounds that invade this 18-year-old's Ono Island bedroom sanctuary are the low buzz of TV talk shows and the whoosh of beach breezes from her balcony door. But Hammock's grayish eyes now gaze silently at her surroundings. Gulf Shores High School's former contender for valedictorian has been difficult to console since her expulsion in February. During a random search in the school parking lot, police officers with drug dogs found in her car traces of something that later tested positive as marijuana. The expulsion and her family's appeal of it catapulted her into the public eye and made her a focus of the national debate over zero-tolerance policies. The New York Times has called to do a story. "A year ago I had a much better self-image," Hammock said this week in her first full-length sit-down interview since the controversy began. "I'm a little more down on myself." Hammock's perspective has changed in many ways in the past few months. She's grown closer to her younger brother and her parents, she said. She's decided to try to attend a college closer to home. Hammock had switched to the new Gulf Shores High School from Foley High School for her senior year for its shorter commute, strong volleyball coaches and the chance to contribute her input to a new school, she said. Things seemed to be working out. At Gulf Shores, she tried to start a drama club, she headed up the yearbook and newspaper and she was picked as homecoming queen last fall. A glittery wand and pink fairy wings that she wore to the school's Halloween dress-up day hang on her wall. "I pretty much was friends with everybody," she said. "I wasn't really mean." But Hammock said she felt she didn't fit into the school's social scene. "I don't really like to go out and party," she said. While many of her classmates applied to Auburn University, she looked at colleges as far away as Atlanta and New York City. "My whole high school (experience) wasn't that great," she said. "I just want to start over." Saying she understands how some students now would want to shy away from her, she also realizes, "I don't have as many friends as I thought I did." She winces at the mention of people who have gossiped about her and questioned her veracity. The same day that Hammock was expelled, her mother purchased a high-priced urine test from Rite-Aid for her daughter to take. She tested negative. "I wanted to know," Jude Hammock said. Two days later, Jude Hammock said she gave her daughter another at-home urine test. And after two more days, Jenny's parents brought her to a doctor for a third urine test. All three tests - designed to measure any marijuana ingested during the previous 28 days - came out negative, Jude Hammock said. Jenny Hammock still says she does not know how the substance officers identified as small traces of marijuana wound up in her parents' recently purchased car, which she regularly drove to school. "I don't know why the dog barked at my car. I don't know why they wouldn't let me call my parents," she said. "I never thought anything like this could happen to me." Her parents do not know why officers told them they had found only enough marijuana to fit on a fingernail when they picked her up from school after her expulsion, but the Baldwin County School Board's attorney said an officer testified there was enough marijuana found in the car to roll three joints. Jude Hammock points out that officers let her drive her daughter's car home without collecting any additional drugs from the car. "Cops don't leave drugs if they find drugs," she said. "They don't leave evidence." A federal judge denied Hammock's claims that the school board did not provide her due process and access to a public education. School officials offered her the chance to attend an alternative school, which Hammock declined. Her family continues to pursue a lawsuit in federal court. In the meantime, Hammock will take a GED test to get her diploma. Her family remains quiet about their thoughts of Gulf Shores High School since her brother has two more years left to attend. Last week, they say, school officials kicked him off the football team for coming to school late with a note saying he was sick, Jude Hammock said. Denise D'Oliveira, a spokeswoman for the Baldwin County Board of Education, said she did not know the particulars of the brother's status with the football squad. Normal grounds for dismissal from a team, she said, include excessive unexcused absence from practice or unsportsmanlike behavior, she said. Gulf Shores High School rumors occasionally filter back to Jenny. She heard that an election had taken place to vote in a new homecoming queen before last week's prom, which she then found out was untrue. She heard that school officials reprimanded another student who tried to hand out pink ribbons in her honor. But Gulf Shores High School Principal Larry Keyes said Friday that he specifically had told his administrative staff not to respond to the ribbons. "As far as he knows, she may still be wearing one today," D'Oliveira said, relaying a conversation with Keyes. Deciding what college to attend and spending time with her boyfriend, Andy, crowd out some of Hammock's thoughts of the suit and the senior year events she has missed. Jenny said she and her boyfriend plan to hike in Utah before she leaves for college. Riding her Mongoose Mountain Bike, playing volleyball and swimming also distract her from her high-profile case. After the past few months, she decided she'd prefer to attend Spring Hill College in Mobile rather than Oglethorpe University in Atlanta so she can be closer to her family. "I just didn't think I could be that far from home." Because of her expulsion from Gulf Shores, the Hammock family said, Spring Hill College officials indicated they would be inclined to accept her only if she remained on conduct probation her first year. Spring Hill officials would not confirm whether Hammock would be on conduct probation if she attends the school. Steve Pochard, dean of enrollment management, confirmed Hammock's father has spoken several times to the admissions' office and that her application will be complete when she takes the GED. If it comes down to attending on probation, it "won't be bad because I'm not a bad kid," Hammock said. Orange Beach:Published: April 29, 2000 2000 Mobile Register. CannabisNews Articles On Drug Testing & Justice:
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Comment #3 posted by J. Bills on April 29, 2000 at 18:23:40 PT:
Zero Tolerance = Intolerance
It is because we don't stand up against such tyranny that it will continue. It is very easy to e-mail your representatives in congress and tell them of your displeasure with the current system. It is one thing to try and dissuade young people to forego the use of drugs. It is quite another when such a promising young lady is caught up in such madness. The government is supposed to be there to serve us. We are not here to serve the government. The government continues down the road of reefer madness while the whole world watches and laughs. I call for a personal responsibility amendment to the US Constitution. Is it really the right of government to tell us what we can or cannot ingest? The hypocracy of it all almost makes me ashamed to call myself American.
News from Latin America and the growing Legalization Movement
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Comment #2 posted by Bitter fromWisconsin on April 29, 2000 at 10:55:54 PT
"Drug"-Free School Zones are a no-go
I relate completely to the young girl in this article. I too was expelled from school--for confessing to having weed 1000 feet within school grounds, even though none was found. I thought honesty was the best policy, but if I would've lied, I would've had a complete senior year. Instead, I was kicked out for two full quarters, and looking back on it, I realize what a low point that was for me. I never had a problem with marijuana--in fact, I made the honor roll the whole time I used it. I was extremely depressed and bitter during my expulsion, and my social life was nonexistent. I contemplated suicide a few times, but I'm not the type to carry out something so extreme. When I was allowed to return during the last quarter of my senior year, I felt like I was out of place, yet I managed to get on the honor roll again. The whole incident has left me psychologically scarred, but I'm trying to get on with my life. I just had enough credits to finish high school and am now in college, fighting to get rid of zero tolerance and the marijuana laws in general. Hopefully the girl in this article can go on to college, but she'll never forget the betrayal of the school just as I won't. By the way, at my high school there were a number of bars well within 1000 feet of school--so much for a drug-free school zone.
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Comment #1 posted by Mari on April 29, 2000 at 09:39:20 PT
"If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear"...Yeah, Right!!
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