School Claims Teen's Writing About Marijuana Use Is 'Drug Possession'
from the writing-is-9/10ths-of-the-law dept
Last May, a teenager was punished with a lengthy suspension after teachers discovered her folder which contained stories with references to marijuana use. Her father is now speaking out and appealing the school’s decision.So, a student's personal notebook -- not one belonging to the school or any particular class -- was left behind and read by a member of school administration, who then "freaked out" and brought it to the attention of school officials.
Tom Grayhorse, father of Krystal Grayhorse, told Ozarks First that he was called by Buffalo High School’s assistant principal after staff found Krystal’s folder containing the stories at the school and were “alarmed by the contents of the notebook.”
“She wrote about making out with a boy- well, you know, she’s a teenager- and also about having some pot then eating it and swallowing it at the school,” said Tom Grayhorse.
Grayhorse can only imagine what was actually written by his daughter because the school has refused to provide him with copies of the objectionable writing.
He went to the school for a meeting but was told he couldn't see the notebook because it's considered evidence, and that his daughter would be suspended for ten days.Yes, the school went full cop on him, claiming the evidence was so secret it couldn't even be seen by the legal guardian of the minor involved. The ten-day suspension has now been extended until January 2015, thanks to its "zero tolerance" drug policies, even though no actual drugs were involved. District Superintendent Robin Ritchie offered this deferral to policy by way of "explanation."
"If they give a ten-day suspension it comes to me as the superintendent and then it is my decision to look back at it and see if an extended suspension is in order...our drug and alcohol policies permit for several different consequences that can be given out. And most of the time it's 1 to 180 days that students can be suspended," Ritchie said.Apparently, in this case, the decision was to use the full 180 days, stretching from the original suspension in May to early 2015. Obviously, this will have a negative impact on the student's hope of graduating on time, but the district has been less than helpful in ensuring the drugless drug violator will be able to stay on schedule.
"I asked them about alternate schooling for people that had been suspended and they said they didn't have it," says Grayhorse.Superintendent Ritchie has suggested night classes, but there doesn't seem to be anything on its website or in its policies that addresses the educational options for suspended students.
Then there's this detail, which may have some crying "#notallsuperintendents!" -- according to both the student's father and investigating officials, the student claimed to have had drugs in her possession, if only temporarily.
Grayhorse claims his daughter didn't have the drugs, even though she admitted to a school officer that she did.So, that would explain the "drug possession" named in the suspension report… except for this fact.
"She'd confess to almost anything, within reason, just to get [the questioning] over with. Somehow she allegedly had some [marijuana]. And she ate it and swallowed it and that took care of it and it was gone."
[Grayhorse] said [his daughter] was not tested for drugs.Well, why not? And why didn't the school exercise some of the other options it offers students with drug issues, rather than pull the trigger on a lengthy suspension?
[Superintendent] Ritchie said the hypothetical discovery of a first-person story involving the use of a controlled substance, even at school, would "not necessarily" trigger a suspension. She added that school counselors have been trained to direct families to resources in the community if there's any hint of alcohol or drug use in a student.The superintendent, while refusing to address specifics, says that the student's written "drug possession" wouldn't necessarily trigger a suspension and that the family could have been approached first about the theoretical drug problem. But the school didn't do any of this and Ritchie's noncommittal, non-specific statements back this up. She claims it all runs through her. So, the extended suspension, as well as the avoidance of less punitive actions, were OKed by her.
Devil's advocate says that if the student truly had drugs in her possession, this would all have been uncovered much more quickly and never would have become another quickly-circulating example of stupid school administration behavior. But withholding the evidence from the parent, as well as the lack of other verification like a drug test, points to a zero tolerance hammer converting another student into a more compliant nail.