Galesburg teen suspended for carrying purse at school

A Galesburg mother says the Galesburg High School’s purse ban has gone too far. Her daughter had to attend the school’s In-School Structured Program after she used a clutch purse to carry feminine products and pencils at school.

Galesburg High School sent notices to students in October 2013 about the purse ban.

“Things like people texting in purses, in class or inappropriate items coming into class;  and so it wasn’t a single incident, it wasn’t even two or three, it was a combination of all those,” said Principal Roy Van Meter said October 18, 2013 about the ban.

“Checking for weapons and checking for drugs and checking for all that, I am in compliance with that all the way, but this was the last straw,” said Carri Harding.

Harding’s 17-year-old daughter was carrying a purple, gold-studded bag with her to class Monday, April 21, 2014.

“She carries her personal feminine napkins in it, hand sanitizing lotion and wipes during her monthly cycle,” said Harding.

Harding says, “that time of the month” was not a valid excuse for carrying the bag in the eyes of the school.

“She didn’t even want to go back to school. She loves school,” she said.

Instead, Harding’s daughter got a green slip assigning her to the In-School Structured Program, commonly known as in-school suspension.

“I didn’t find it fair.  I thought it was quite degrading actually,” said Harding.

Harding says the school told her daughter she could continue carrying the purse with a doctor’s note saying she had a medical condition.

“Really, a medical condition? I mean, every woman has it every month. It’s not a medical condition, it’s nature,” said Harding.

We attempted to talk with the Galesburg High School Principal. We were told Principal Roy Van Meter would talk with us, but a few minutes later we were told he was too busy and the school had no comment.

“I just think that, that particular aspect of their policy should be re-looked at and maybe gone about a different way,” said Harding.

So that a clutch purse doesn’t keep her daughter out of class again.

75 comments

    • Karen Walters Griffee

      I never have heard of such a thing. Where are they supposed to carry their drivers’ license? identification? How about the boys’ wa;;ets? I think most schools hand out condoms now, so how about the boys should carry THOSE in their hands.

  • TF

    Waa waaa, girls can’t carry their make-up to class, waa waa, they can’t sneak their cell phone with them. It’s one thing to have your “time of the month” tools with you, in fact, I’m perfectly fine if they allow a very small bag with just those tools in it. However, girls do not need to be strutting around school with a purse full of garbage they don’t need.

  • Mary

    This is ridiculous. I can understand restricting certain size bags or purses, but seriously?The girl was on her period. What the heck is she supposed to do, carry the feminine products around in her hand? She’s in high school…they would make fun of her for any possible reason, let alone this

  • yvette

    Rules are rules! Follow them- stuff the Pad in your sock- I am sure they have machines in the girls bathroom that they can purchase products from. There are ways to be desecrete- Carrying the purse around is more obvious than carrying the feminine product around in her hand.

    • Bethany

      Seriously?? Stuff it in your sock?? That’s about as stupid as possible. And not all schools carry the feminine products machines where you can purchase one. All they had to do was ask to discreetly glance in her bag if they were concerned and they would’ve seen what she had in her bag and that would’ve been that.

    • Patty

      are you for real ? your sock? more noticeable than carrying a tampon in your hand ? Lady you need to appy for a job at the school ,i’ll bet you get hired

    • jen

      really! in your sock! IDK where you went to school but none of mine ever had machines in the bathroom and even if they did I was never able to wear a tampon and usually had to wear heavier flow products even when I was in high school. There is no reason they couldn’t ask to look in her bag to see that there is nothing going on.

    • Carrie McMillan-Tarleton

      I attended Galesburg High School and as of the Class of ’94 they had no “machines” in the restrooms times may have changed since then but knowing the district I would honestly be shocked if they actually did something beneficial for the students BEFORE making a new rule. They have always made rule changes etc… without making sure that any problems that may arise from said rule have been addressed.

    • Christy

      Honey, women have been carrying some variation of a purse since the beginning of time. It’s what we do. If she’s modest, she isn’t going to carry that kind of stuff down the hallway at school. Do you know how mean kids are in this day and age?! The girl would be mortified! And in your SOCK? Half the shoes on the market right now you can’t wear socks with. What will you say next, stuff it in her bra? What if she is small chested, it will show and then she’ll get made fun of for stuffing? It’s not like girl’s jean pockets will fit that kind of stuff, we can hardly fit a piece of lint in those things! Take it from a High School girl, who has no locker, no machines in the restrooms, and still has a cycle every month, They should be able to carry a SMALL clutch purse that will hold the necessary supplies to make it through the day. And if it comes down to it, check the contents! For Pete’s sake! It ain’t that difficult to do
      Sincerely,
      The modest girl that won’t tolerate stupid people

  • loriann

    zero tolerance is zero tolerance. bags of any kind are not allowed in classrooms for a reason. SAFETY comes first. People complaining about students not allowed to carry purses or backpacks to classroom are also the first to point the finger when the student with the gun or knife attacks. students know the policy so deal with it.

    • Carri

      It wasn’t a “bag” it was a clutch! Same size as the “pencil cases” that they DO allow! Maybe you shouldn’t speak on subjects you know nothing about!

      • allieb

        Using a synonym doesn’t change the intent. A clutch is a type of bag. That “clutch” is large enough to conceal things that are not allowed. If they allow pencil cases, then put the pad in there. They are flexible and will bend to fit. Problem solved!

  • Kathy Bent

    Really!!!! Just exactly where did you people come from? Women have their periods every month until we hit menopause in our 50’s or later. Rules are rules? What kind of crap is that? The way kids get bullied and picked on these days for every little thing and this is what it has come to. Not everyone breaks rules and goes against policies. So, now you are taking away the right of women to their privacy to conceal the fact that they are having their monthly. Not that I myself care what people think if they see me carrying a pad or tampon in my hand. But, teenage girls are a lot more self conscience about their selves.

    • marj413

      Because that makes sense and then they would be following the rules thus having nothing to whine about.

      • linda louis

        maybe she doesnt want everyone next to her locker to know shes digging out pads and tampons, perhaps she opens her locker and the pads fall on the ground and someone steps on them.

      • Brittany E. Butts

        Actually, the article states at the very beginning that the purse isn’t allowed in the school at all. So, no, that still wouldn’t make sense. Maybe those of you who are just chalking it to her having something to whine about, should consider complaining to your school that you didn’t learn how to read! Oh, and even the reporter stated that her school BANS purses. It’s pretty clear. Even if you’re illiterate.

    • leslie

      If the school doesnt allow purses “for safety” what makes you think they let the students have lockers?

      • Carrie McMillan-Tarleton

        Every student has a locker. every hallway is lined with them. However, the Galesburg High school is very large (didn’t really look that way from their shot) and there is a 5 minute pass time between classes. I speak from experience when I say that there is NOT enough time to leave one class, hit your locker, hit the bathroom, and make it clear across that campus to your next class.

    • Sara Elizabeth McDorman

      I graduated in 2010. Most of the time there wasn’t enough time to get to my locker to get my books for the next class, let alone go to the locker, get my pads, get to the bathroom, use the bathroom, clean up, change my pad, clean my hands, THEN get to the next class.

  • Douglas Woolam

    This HAS to be one of the most ASSININE topics I have seen yet. Female s have their cycle, everyone on the PLANET EARTH knows this. Why punish her if that is what she was carrying? They are worried too much about controling things, when everyone knows that is it just the illusion of control. If someone wants to hurt someone else….they aren’t pulling a gun from the purse…they walk into the place with guns out and firing. The school needs to get real. Worry about the education of the kids, and quit trying to micromanage every little thing.

    • Barry Gowland

      Here in the UK we have a name for that kind of mentality – that principal would find himself branded as a “jobsworth”, and likely held up to public contempt and ridicule in the media.

  • Melody

    It’s a truly sad day when there is actually a ban on purses in a school in the USA. This is now a police state and people should really start homeschooling their children.

  • Carmen Brown

    I feel embarrassed by the pettifogging martinets. They draw large salaries as administrative educators and don’t have the common sense of a goose. Only a misogynist or someone who is appalling ignorant could believe that the feminine hygiene products in the restrooms are of adequate size for all females at all times. No one who has ever had a monthly period would believe that the few minutes between classes give a young woman time to go to her locker and get what she needs, get to a vacant stall in the restroom, and make it to her next class in time. Women can be astronauts and police officers, but they can’t be respected students at this high school.

  • Rob

    Why is this news? A student broke the rules and got punished for breaking those rules. It doesn’t matter why she broke the rules or even if she had a valid reason for breaking the rules. Just because a parent is upset that there were consequences for her daughter’s actions does not make this news or newsworthy.
    Using the excuse of feminine products is also by it’s definition sexist. Would this be news if it were a boy suspended for carrying a backpack? No. So why is it news because her mom says she’s carrying tampons?
    Yes woman can be astronauts and police officers… but when they are astronauts and police officers they should be held to the same standards, paid the same for the same work, and if they break the rules face the same punishments as men.
    This is a clear case of a student breaking the rules, not liking the consequences, and a parent defending a child for breaking the rules.
    This is not a case of mysogyny. This is an case of mysandry, where in a female student is expected to be to have exceptions to the rules because she is female.
    Equality means just that. Equal treatment and equal punishment.

    • Jo

      Rob,
      I would love to see a young man or even you for that matter deal with a monthly cycle. No way on earth can you compare that monthly process to being equal with a man. NO WAY!!!!!!

    • Brittany E. Butts

      I guess she should bleed freely all day, through her clothes, in the seats that other students have to sit in. Maybe go to lunch where other students are eating with blood leaking all through her pants. I am sure that that would be a MUCH better option in YOUR eyes? You talk like this is an option that woman choose and feel like they should have a right to choose it! Did you even pass 7th grade science? It is a stupid rule! If we just sat back and accepted the rules just because they are in place we would still be under British control, wouldn’t we? (I am talking about the US, by the way.) Just stupid!

  • Ashton

    Clearly everyone who thinks the girl should be punished is a man. When you are a high school girl, it is mortifying to have anyone know it’s that time of the month.

    I can understand having a size restriction on bags, but this is ridiculous. If a student wants to bring a weapon to school they are going to find a way. Banning small purses isn’t going to prevent it.

    As usual, lets punish the good kids, even when they aren’t doing anything wrong. I’m so sick of these school administrators with a god-complex.

  • Rob

    Again… the issue isn’t why the student broke the rules. The issue is that the student broke the rules. It doesn’t matter why. If you get caught speeding you get a ticket. If you’re caught stealing you go to jail. If you are a high school student and you break the rules you get a detention or suspension. Simple as that.
    If you have an issue with a rule or punishment being able to yell the loudest doesn’t make you right. Speak with an administrator, if that doesn’t work, speak with the schoolboard. Every school has a handbook committee and reviews rules and procedures every year.
    There is also a due process procedure for occasions such as this where a student or parent is unhappy with a decison on the part of the administration.
    There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to address a grievance, calling the news because you didn’t like a decision is not the proper way.
    Making it into an gender issue is also not the proper way.

    • Carmen Brown

      Since this is not Russia or China, calling the news because you don’t like or respect the decision of a public official is the proper way. (Something about the Bill of Rights and Freedom of Speech. Oh, yes, and the role of the news media in bringing up local issues, not just selling advertising space.)

      The local tax payers are footing the principal’s salary, the school board members are elected to oversee the educational process. If you are a local voter, Rob, you can vote for school board members who support the principal’s decision. If you a local voter who thinks that ” zero tolerance” and “a rule is a rule” are the last resorts of lazy and insecure administrators, then you can call your school board and follow through at the ballot box.

      I certainly agree that many “They did my child wrong” complaints are frivolous and encourage the young person’s lack of responsibility. The good thing about blogs like this is that all the pros and cons can be freely discussed. Maybe people may learn something.

      In your mind there is are “appropriate and inappropriate ways to address a grievance.” We don’t have to agree. And, as far as I’m concerned, it would only be a gender issue if the girls asked for more time between classes, or larger bathrooms. In Afghanistan the Taliban would insist that it was a gender issue and girls should not be allowed in schools at all. I guess it’s all in your perspective.

    • Steph

      I have been dealing with our school district for 2 years. I have talked with the principal, executive director, school board, superintendent MANY times…all the things I have been told to do. Followed the chain of command exactly. NOTHING has changed. The school has had over half the staff leave and 40 students leave in 2 years & they still refuse to fix the problem. My point? Sometimes you have to be drastic to draw attention to the problem to get it fixed.

    • Rachelle

      Rob has obviously never worked in a school system.. In theory your proposed plan is perfect.. In reality.. It does not work that way. As for your example.. Someone said in a previous post let the punishment fit the crime.. If you get caught speeding.. 99% of the time you are asked by the officer why… Have a valid enough reason and you are let off with a warning or maybe even nothing at all except a “slow down”. Bad example.

    • Brittany E. Butts

      In the mean time while we are trying to enact change, let the girls walk around with blood soaking through their clothes because they had nothing to carry their pads and tampons in. What a lot of people aren’t realizing is that students aren’t always allowed to go to their lockers in the middle of class or don’t have enough time to go between every class. Seriously, this is a stupid rule made up by men who don’t have to go through this shit every month! In the mean time, you all can deal with looking at and smelling blood on all of the female students who could not change their pads/tampons in time because a rule is a rule.

  • Erica

    I understand where the school is coming from but come on! Give a girl some privacy at least for something like this!!

  • carrie

    For those who say”go to your locker between class”hasn’t been at GHS! You try going to your locker,then going to the bathroom,doing what you have to do,then get to class before the bell.Just not enough time. I understand the safety rules behind it ,just not practical!

  • Lana Monteith

    Why not just have schools start trying to teach school now, instead of looking for any stupid image, shadow, pop tart or piece of paper that fouls possibly be taken as the image of a gun! Quit the joke common core, in the five years it’s been in use our schools are further behind than ever. Quit looking for trouble, quit making trouble, start teaching again! You schools are a laughing stock, run by idiots and pedi files!

  • Pyro Maim Ya

    ^ Pretty sure you mean “pedophile.” Nail technicians use pedi files to remove callouses on your feet. I realize it’s tangential to clarify that, but if you’re going to accuse public education of failing you probably want to spell your words correctly. Unless it’s a tongue-in-cheek example of how they’ve let you down, of course.

    Zero tolerance means exactly that. If I get pulled over for speeding to get to a gas station so I can change my tampon, I still get a ticket. Not because I’m being oppressed in any way, not because my rights as a woman are being challenged, but because I was doing something illegal (speeding).

    The bag was against the rules. She carried the bag. She broke the rules.

    When the sentences are broken down to the actual facts, they become less titillating, which makes for less sensationalist news. That makes the media sad.

    • Deborah

      And that way, the administrators don’t have to think or use any common sense….a rule is a rule…one size fits all….whew!

  • Ms T

    While this is terrible and I feel so sorry for the child. Schools are ran today like prisons because there is so much viloence. The principal had to make a decision to enforce. There are more than one girl in this school what are the other girls doing? Let’s look at the bigger picture here. It’s a no win situation for the student or the school. Why risk a whole school for allowing one student break the rule. (I am not saying it is right, but looking at all sides).

  • Lauren

    The School’s Rule is Unfair anyways, it is NOT their Business to dictate what a Girl can & Cannot do to avoid Embarrassment for “Feminine Products”, STUPID on the Part of the School!!!

    • Lucas A

      Wake up! Security is the biggest concern at EVERY school these days. It absolutely is the school’s business what a student has in a bag, especially when bags, even clutches (a/k/a handBAGS), have been banned. If this parent doesn’t like the rule, I think she has the right to voice her opinion about that rule. However, until it changes, violating the rule will lead to punishment. It has to be that way. You better believe that if her child was a boy, she’d be complaining because they let the girls carry bags, but her son wasn’t allowed…she would expect the school to enforce the rule.

      By the way, the comment about letting girls carry bags because “most school shooters are males” is not only completely ridiculous, it’s reckless and foolhardy. Security only works when the system is applied uniformly.

  • Liz

    If preventing this girl from bringing a clutch to school gives them a greater sense of security, they’ve got bigger problems. School shooters, majority in the past have been males, don’t carry purses. This school district needs to rethink its security system. And…please use common sense with your rules. Good grief!

  • Allison

    STUPID!!! As a woman with three children, I wouldn’t care. However, a girl in high school has enough to worry about. This is ridiculous. Schools are worrying about the wrong things. Let the principal carry feminine products around. Let one of the football players carry his athletic supporter / cup around in something other than his gym bag. This girl is being disciplined for being female!!!!! I’m sick of this kind of stupidity!!!!

  • jo

    This is beyond stupid. They ban purses? Ok let me put it to you like this. They made kids leave their back backs at home during the last days of school in one city, bc of fear they would bring things on campus. Ok great but you know there are other ways to get guns and knifes and weapons into the school besides in back packs and purses right? What about lunch boxes? Pencil cases?Brown paper bags? Binders with inside pockets? Or how about going to school the night before and planting a weapon on campus and then the next day getting it? Stupid. If they really knew how dumb this sounds. She should just use a pencil bag next time. A REAL pencil bag…there are ways around rules.

  • nora

    I bet all these people saying to comply with the rules ect… Or stick the pad in your socks work for the school… seriously! I cannot believe this school would do this.. I hope they get sued!

  • renee

    I would like to know what other girls in the school do when it’s their time of the month??? Its a double edge sword….I think the rule is stupid but I see the need for security as well. We live in a different world than when I was a kid. Maybe they need to modify the rule and go back to having assigned cubby holes or mini lockers in the classroom. That way the girls can have small purses and maintain privacy but they won’t have the purses at their desks so they can’t text etc??? Just a thought.

  • heather

    really people that principle should get fired and for rob and the other idiots that think she was wrong need to check yourselves she did nothing wrong

  • Tracy

    So basically, because there are so many thugs in the schools, decent, honest students must live by asinine rules. If I had been forced to carry my pads or tampons around in my shoe (like the one lady suggested) or buy them from the vending machine 2 or 3 times a day, I would have dropped out of school from embarrassment.

    Maybe she should wear tampons as earrings like those disgusting women reporters on MSNBC. Then the school would be begging her to bring a bag.

  • Jan L

    Most of the people commenting here that they should “follow the rules” are the first that would scream foul if they were not allowed to bring their purses/bags/clutches/handbags to work or church or town meeting or any other assembly where you might need to have a tampon or sanitary napkin available. Do you realize how badly a youngster would be ridiculed and bullied if she was found to have a sanitary napkin in her sock or bra? Put the shoe on the other foot, people!

  • Momma lisa

    Absolutely ridiculous!!! Purse school ban a joke! That would make me furious if that happened to my daughter!

  • Joyce

    Okay, so is she allowed to carry the clutch to the restroom? If so, problem solved…, if not-let her keep the clutch in the nurses office and check it in/out from there. Of course the amount of class time she’ll miss has been quadrupled, but P&P has been followed, huh?!?!?

  • JOHN

    IF IT WERE ME I WOULD SUE FOR GENDER DISCRIMINATION. MILLIONS IN THE BANK BABY. SO WHAT, SHE WILL BLEED HERSELF IN THE CLASS? HOW HYGIENIC IS THAT. WHAT IF THE GIRL HAD HIV. STUPID SCHOOL. LAWSUIT.

  • perry wingerter

    Wake up Americans our goverment is taking control of our lives every day if we dont take a stand then all of our God given rights in the Constitution will be taken away. Is this what our brave men and women who have some gave their life for us to be free and free from the controling effects that our goverment is doing each and every day. Pretty much sums up that this all started right after Sept.11th 2001 we vote for this and that politician because we be live in him or her to work for our behalfs but once they get into office be it a school principal or school board or even The President of America they pretty well do what they can achive while they our in office. The United Sates of America is getting to be a pretty bad nation when it comes down to wanting to control us We The People need to rally behind the Constitution and we the people need to take back this once great nation that we call home thank you. P.S. if you dont like what is going on with the rules in our schools then you must take a stand and correct the mistake only we the people can correct the mistakes of our so called leaders.

  • Beth Davis

    That’s utterly ridiculous! Has the school got nothing better to do than suspend a student for something like this?

  • Chuck Whittier

    First of all, if this is what it comes down to then the mother should take her daughter to the Dr. and get a medical release to carry her “MEDICAL BAG” each month when needed, next the school must ban ALL bags on CAMPUS GROUNDS “including” any bags carried by teachers too.

  • Lindsay(FormerGHSgrad)

    Let’s see, as a 2012 graduate having a locker in the industrial hallway..I would know there isn’t enough time AT ALL to go to your locker to get your books and go to the bathroom then make it to class all in 5 minutes. Let alone being on your cycle needing to get a pad/tamp and then use it plus the above. And sure she could have went to her locker in class but would have had to been escorted by a admin personnel. Can we say EMBARRASSING?! It’s embarrassing just to be 17 years old walked from class to the bathroom. Now we’re gonna have to explain that we have to stop by our locker to get a pad? Yeah sorry no. Crock of horse shit if you ask me. Graduate early kids it’s like a prison if you dont.

  • Jennifer Rebekah Billis-Gehrke

    Their reasons for the rules are sound. They have every right to establish rules in their school and to the expectation that they will be respected. She knew the rule before she carried the purse and chose to ignore it. If she wanted to carry it she should have had her mother called the school and gotten permission. It’s a wrong message to tell a kid that you can disobey rules if you think they are stupid or you don’t like them. Teach her how to appeal to authority and obey. It sounds like the school was reasonable and offered for her to get a doctor’s note. They have to cover themselves legally. What if a kid came in and brought a weapon or drugs in the school in that purse? People would be screaming that they didn’t protect their kids. A doctor’s note protects them from litigation and allows the girl to carry the purse. Work with them and be reasonable people! Sheesh!

  • Cj

    I think stories like these get blown out of proportion and facts can be omitted. While there should be something in place to accommodate females’ privacy during their cycle, who knows if she didn’t get in trouble for being defiant and disrespectful when asked to abide by the rule. I never carried a purse in school, and still was able to discreetly get my bag out of my locker and go to the restroom during class, in between classes, before and after lunch, or during study hall. And I make reusable cloth menstrual pads for a living, so I’m totally into woman empowerment and embracing their cycle. But, a doctors note? That’s dumb. Seems like their could’ve been some concessions made on both sides of this situation.

  • SoWeGA

    I was 10 when I, and a few of my classmates, started menstruating. I would have done ISS every single month. I was already ashamed to have to carry a purse at that age but to be told I would have to fit several sanitary napkins in a pocket or just walk around with them in my hand would have been beyond humiliating. The same goes for high school. Tampons were never an option for me. I can’t believe there are females in administration or on the school board that thought this was a good idea.

  • dee

    So lets see on October 2013 they let them know about a purse ban. On April 21, 2014 she is sent to ISS for a school violation of carring a cluch bag. What did she carry between October 2013 to April 21, 2014?

  • Diane P. Stremlau

    Why is it necesssary to carry feminine items class to class when one needs to go to the restroom to address the monthly issue ? Leave them in your locker. Unfortunately the crimes within schools has escalated to the point that it is necessary to establish rules on nearly every issue. This is basically the reason large corporations require employees to carry personal items in clear, zippered bags. Safety in schools/workplaces is the main reason these rules are in affect. Respect them whether your in Galesburg, Illinois or…………

  • kristy rogers

    Sigh…who was it that said that as patriots it was our duty to not follow unjust laws? Same goes for rules. All the girls should protest and spread this principal’s stupidity everywhere until they adjust the rule! We did it when they tried to make us carry clear backpacks and it worked. We are Americans and it’s not acceptable to just allow this!

  • Heather N

    So…this ban started when?, October 2013? What has she been doing to carry these products to school for the last 5-6 months? Just curious. That picture showing the clutch doesn’t really look like a clutch to me…appears to be slightly larger.

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