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When Texas third-grader Leighann Adair was slapped with a week's detention for possessing a single Jolly Rancher candy, the ten-year-old girl unwittingly brought national attention on the state's rule forbidding candy from schools. What happened?

  • Why The School Did It  KHOU News' Gabe Gutierrez reports, "School officials in Brazos County are defending the seemingly harsh sentence. The school’s principal and superintendent said they were simply complying with a state law that limits junk food in schools. Jack Ellis, the superintendent for Brazos Independent School District, declined an on-camera interview. But he said the school was abiding by a state guideline that banned 'minimal nutrition' foods. 'Whether or not I agree with the guidelines, we have to follow the rules,' he said."
  • 'Just Ridiculous'  Opposing Views' Mark Berman writes, "If you ask school officials in Brazos County, they will tell you they ... have no choice. They will tell you if they don't follow these guidelines set down by the Texas Department of Agriculture, they risk losing federal funding. But if you ask any rational person in the universe, you're likely to get the same reaction that Leighann's mother had. 'I think it’s stupid to give a kid a week’s worth of detention for a piece of candy,' said Amber Brazda. 'The whole thing was just ridiculous to me.'"
  • State Officials Balk  Fox News' Katie Landan says the school might be wrong to insist they're just following rules.
There's nothing in the rules that compels a school to punish a student for possessing junk food, says Texas Department of Agriculture spokesman Bryan Black.

The department sent a letter to the school reminding staff that state policy doesn’t outline such punishments. "Our policy does not prohibit from sharing a Jolly Rancher with a friend," Black told

"If a parent wants to pack candy, it's their decision, not against school policy. A parent needs to decide what a student eats." 

Though the state has dietary rules for schools -- mandating, for example, that food be baked, not fried -- disciplinary action is a local decision, Black told And Leighann's parents say the local decision routinely goes too far. "The school has a history of harsh punishments," Michael Brazda told "It's about time someone called them out on it."

  • This Is Called 'Malicious Compliance'  Liberal blogger MisterMix explains, "[The school principal] clearly doesn’t agree with the guidelines, so he decided to make a 10 year-old girl miserable to prove his point. I learned the term 'malicious compliance' from a friend who worked in a Fortune 500 company. Mid-level managers who are butthurt over some new policy will often apply it in the most obtuse manner imaginable, with the aim of undermining the goals of company leadership. In the business world, malicious compliance gets managers fired."
  • Still Better Than Some School Meals  Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward points out that "lunches provided by the school can be far worse than a little piece of hard candy." She provides this Reason video for explanation.

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