A Virginia couple has filed a lawsuit against their son’s school, the school resource officer, and the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office after their 11-year-old son was kicked out of school for bringing a plant — that wasn’t pot — to school, the Roanoke Times is reporting.
The troubles for the unnamed sixth-grader, identified only as RMB, began in September 2014. Melvin Williams, the lawyer for Bruce and Linda Bays, the boy’s parents, says that the boy was at school when word somehow got to school administrators that he had a bag of marijuana and a lighter in his backpack.
“We know they relied on ‘tips’ that after the fact turn out to be less than reliable.”
The boy was in gym class when he was summoned to the principal’s office. There, the principal, in the presence of the school resource officer, emptied the boy’s backpack and found a bag containing leaves and a lighter. He was immediately suspended for 10 days, pending an administrative hearing, then kicked out of school for a year. The school resource officer also filed marijuana possession charges against the youth in juvenile court.
There was only one problem: three tests on the plant that the boy brought to school determined that it wasn’t marijuana, according to Raw Story.
“The field test came back not inconclusive, but negative. Yet [Resource Officer Calohan] went to a magistrate and swore he possessed marijuana at school.”
RMB’s parents believe that he was likely the victim of a prank; RMB rides the same bus with high school students and his parents believe an older teen likely put the substance into his backpack without RMB knowing about it, a claim the school has rejected.
The school maintains that the fact that the substance the boy allegedly brought to school turned out not to be marijuana is irrelevant; under the school’s Zero Tolerance drug policy, “lookalike” drugs are also forbidden.
The case illustrates how schools’ so-called “Zero Tolerance” policies, while well-intentioned, can sometimes be taken to ridiculous lengths. Earlier this month, according to this Inquisitr report, a first-grader in Colorado was suspended, under his school’s zero-tolerance violence policy, for pointing his finger in the shape of a gun.
RMB will be allowed to resume attending school — at an alternative school and under strict probationary guidelines — on Monday, but his parents want him back in his old school, with his record expunged.
RMB’s parents claim that, since their son’s suspension for bringing not-marijuana to school, the gifted and talented student has been withdrawn, and is being treated by a child psychiatrist for depression and panic attacks.