Teacher’s ordeal began when cops found two pills in her car

by Walter Olson on May 1, 2009

59-year-old Melinda Herrick, an art teacher who had been a Teacher of the Year honoree in the Houston schools, was charged with violating the “drug-free zone” law after cops found two Xanax pills in her car; the drug is often prescribed for panic disorder. Herrick protested that the car had been in the shop for repairs for more than a month before the incident; her daughter also drove the car. Students rallied on her behalf and the charges were finally dropped after she underwent a drug test which indicated that she did not use drugs. [Houston Chronicle via Obscure Store]

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Youth Services Litigation Blog
05.04.09 at 6:07 am


1 Ron Coleman 05.01.09 at 10:13 am

I bet she would have handled the situation better if she did use the Xanax.

2 Frank 05.01.09 at 11:18 am

I have read a couple of accounts of this. Neither state why and how the police were able to search the car.

3 Greg DWyer 05.01.09 at 1:59 pm

I read a story on this back when it first happened. The police were searching cars randomly in the school parking lot (the school and state rules allow it). They searched student cars, too. This is part of the whole Zero Tolerance schema. Hopefully, now that it was a teacher who got in trouble, maybe they’ll get some brains and relax the policy

4 Mike43 05.01.09 at 2:46 pm

I work with the district in Houston, we were told it was drug dogs that signalled the presence.

In Texas, and under our state law, that’s enough to search and to suspend/fire you for refusal.

I’m happy that she did get re-instated. It originally started with students calling in tips on teachers. After several arrests, the superintendent decided to do a district wide sweep. The results, fortunately, were less than impressive. So it was decided to pull the plug.

5 teqjack 05.01.09 at 4:01 pm

Uh, “drug-free zone?” Does this cover a kid with a severe allergy and forbid carrying an EpiPEn? A heart patient with nitroglycerin caps?

6 BG 05.01.09 at 11:14 pm

Chipping away at student’s fourth amendment right.


I like briefcase8’s indoctrination paragraph at the end.

7 Lora 05.03.09 at 10:42 pm

It is better to be safe than safe and secure in your constitutional rights.

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