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Lethbridge school defends actions after suspending student selling Pepsi

09/15/2014 02:44 EDT | Updated 11/15/2014 05:59 EST
School board administrators in Lethbridge, Alta., are defending their suspension policies after a Grade 12 student refused to stop selling Pepsi out of his locker.

Keenan Shaw was suspended for two days by Winston Churchill High School. He was selling the soft drink to students, which violated several school policies.

Cheryl Gilmore, superintendent of the Lethbridge public school board, said Tuesday that while she can't speak about the student's case, the rules say a principal has to be consulted before an item can be sold in school. Board nutrition policy also prevents the sale of sugary pop at schools.

"We can't just have anyone coming into the school selling anything they want in the school. There's a distribution of merchandise policy, but we would never suspend someone. We would talk to them about it, we would talk to them about why it doesn't follow our nutrition policy. So there would be lots of talk and fair warning, and opportunity to work with the school administration, before it would ever get to the point of a suspension," she said.

While selling a Pepsi isn't enough for a suspension, "persistent or chronic disobedience or disregard for district or school rules" is enough, she said.

Student upset with suspension

Shaw says he was told the sales violated the nutrition and marketing policies, and that he was operating a business without a licence. 

But compared with what some other students sell at the southern Alberta school, Shaw says his transgressions were minor.

"I'm not going to name any names, but I know a couple of people selling marijuana," he said.

"There's kids selling smokes, there was a kid last year selling meth, as well as a kid selling acid." 

Shaw says he has been told he will be expelled if the pop sales continue. 

His mother says she believes the school went a little over the top and that the punishment is too extreme.

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