November 7, 2007 in Nation/World

Hugs earn girl, 13, detention

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Megan Coulter gets a family hug from her mother, Melissa, father, Dean, and sister, Baylee.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

MASCOUTAH, Ill. – Two hugs equals two days of detention for 13-year-old Megan Coulter.

The eighth-grader was punished for violating a school policy banning public displays of affection when she hugged two friends Friday.

“I feel it is crazy,” said Megan, who was to serve her second detention Tuesday after classes at Mascoutah Middle School.

“I was just giving them a hug goodbye for the weekend,” she said.

Megan’s mother, Melissa Coulter, said the embraces weren’t even real hugs – just an arm around the shoulder and slight squeeze.

“It’s hilarious to the point of ridicule,” Coulter said.

District Superintendent Sam McGowen said he thinks the penalty is fair and that administrators in the school east of St. Louis were following policy in the student handbook.

It states: “Displays of affection should not occur on the school campus at any time. It is in poor taste, reflects poor judgment, and brings discredit to the school and to the persons involved.”

Coulter said she and her husband told their daughter to go ahead and serve her detentions because the only other option was a day of suspension for each skipped detention.

“We don’t agree with it, but I certainly don’t want her to get in more trouble,” Coulter said.

The couple plan to attend the next school board meeting to ask board members to consider rewording the policy or be more specific in what is considered a display of affection.

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