Sixth Grader Suspended By Virginia School Over Leaf That Wasn’t Marijuana, Parents Sue

Bedford Middle School has a strict “no drug” policy, a policy that caused one 11-year-old sixth grader to be banned. The student, whose parents are both teachers at the Bedford, Va. middle school, was suspended for a year after school administrators found what they thought was marijuana in his backpack. But according to a report by the Roanoke Times, Bedford Middle School got it wrong.

Months after the boy was suspended and criminal charges were filed, a test of the leaf showed that it was not marijuana. So what caused this bizarre mix-up? Allegedly, the entire matter began when the sixth grader bragged to schoolmates about his parents growing marijuana in their backyard. As “proof” he supposedly brought a leaf to school along with a lighter. Students who heard this told Bedford Middle School administrators.

In the wake of the revelation, charges against the student were dropped, however Bedford Middle School is continuing to treat the 11-year-old as if he’d genuinely violated the school’s strict drug policies. The school’s attorney, Jim Guynn, defended the Virginia school’s stance on the matter, stating that their response was “pretty standard policy across the Commonwealth.”

While that policy may make sense for actual marijuana and other contraband, how does a false claim factor into this odd equation? Well, apparently the Virginia school considers a “pretend claim” to have fake drugs to be as wrong as bringing real marijuana to school.

It’s not clear if the student is even responsible for the fake marijuana leaf. Bruce and Linda Bays, the sixth grader’s parents, denied to Bedford school officials that they grow pot, and demanded to see the “leaf” that administrators found. Said Linda Bays, were denied the opportunity.

“I asked, ‘Can I see the leaf?’ and the deputy said, ‘No, it’s already in evidence,’ We have never seen the leaf.”

Their 11-year-old son claimed that he had no idea where the leaf came from and said, “he was pranked.” It’s possible that the entire matter was a joke on the youngster that went too far. If so, the serious response by Virginia school officials may have discouraged students from coming forward.

The incident has had a startling effect on the 11-year-old, who went from being a gifted student to a troubled one.

“He just broke down and said his life was over. He [said he] would never be able to get into college; he would never be able to get a job.”

It was only after a call from the boy’s doctor about how the school’s behavior affected his health that the sixth grader was allowed to return to Bedford Middle School. He is on strict probation.

In an effort to clear their son’s name and to force the school and local law enforcement to answer for their treatment of their son, the Bays have filed a federal lawsuit against Bedford Middle School and Bedford County Sheriff’s Office.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons]