They were just energy mints.

But the mints were in unmarked packages, and the Pekin, Illinois school officials thought the mints looked like illegal drugs. As a result, four students were suspended.

In an effort to keep schools safe and drug-free, many districts ban the possession, distribution, purchase or sale of look-alike drugs. For example, New Trier High School may discipline students for serious misconduct involving the sale of look-alike drugs. (New Trier Township High School District 203, Board of Education Policy, see 7-200.)
Lincolnshire High School defines a look-alike or counterfeit drug as a substance that the student believes to be or represents to be illegal, or a substance where the student engaged in behavior that would cause a reasonable person to believe the drug was illegal. ( Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103 Parent-Student Handbook.)

Depending on the school district, students caught with look-alike substances can be suspended or even expelled. And in some cases, the offense could lead to criminal charges under Illinois law. See our related criminal law blog at Look-alike Drugs: A Felony in Illinois.

If the school seeks to discipline you for look-alike drugs, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Do not attempt to resolve the situation with the school district yourself. Time and time again, well-meaning parents or students have provided the ammunition needed for the school to punish their child. An attorney can help determine the best way to present your child’s case at a hearing or can assist in working out an agreement on the discipline.

If you have questions about this or another related school or criminal matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)