NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA.com) — School district officials in Orange County are denying they took any disciplinary action against an 11-year-old student who brought a fermented tea drink to school.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District officials issued a public rebuttal to allegations from the student’s mother, who blogged about actions allegedly taken against her 7th-grade son for possession of Kombucha, a bacteria- and yeast-filled beverage which contains 0.05 percent alcohol.
“Leslie”, the boy’s mother, wrote on her blog, “Fresh And Free In The O.C.“, that her son was called into the vice principal’s office at Horace Ensign Intermediate School on Oct. 9 for allegedly violating the school’s drug and alcohol policy.
According to Leslie, her son claimed that there was a police officer present during the meeting who informed him that the beverage was illegal for him to drink, and that the vice principal said they would consider transferring the student to another school.
She said she was contacted the following day and told that her son would be suspended for five days, which district officials refuted on Oct. 12 in a statement, saying “no disciplinary action was taken and the student was not suspended.”
Officials also denied that any police were “called in specifically for this incident” and said the officer present during the meeting was one of two full-time School Resource Officers.
The boy’s parents met with the school principal on Oct. 12 “to discuss and resolve any issues” that resulted from the incident, according to officials, who also said they have asked the Superintendent to review their response to the incident in order to “emphasize a more nurturing approach” and “avoid overly aggressive practices when dealing with the discipline process.”
Avid consumers of Kombucha — which contains high levels of amino acids and active enzymes — claim the beverage provides increased energy and improved digestion as well as a detoxification effect on the entire body.
While critics warn that unpasteurized kombucha can ferment in the bottle without proper refrigeration and raise its alcohol content to the level of some beers, the drink itself is sold over the counter at supermarkets and does not currently have any age restrictions.
And despite her son’s alleged run-in with authorities, Leslie said she will continue to advocate for the beverage.
“He LOVES Kombucha. He LOVES educating the other students on the detriments of processed food and sugar. He has fully embraced being ‘different’,” she wrote. “I am one proud momma! So, how does he deserve this?”