6th grade honor student suspended for 1 year, evaluated by a psychiatrist, and charged with Marijuana possession for possessing a tree leaf!
All of this is laid out in jaw-dropping detail by Dan Casey in a story in the Roanoke Times today. While the juvenile court dropped its case against the student after the tests turned up negative, the school system has been far less forgiving. That's because stringent anti-drug policies in school districts in Virginia and elsewhere consider "imitation" drugs to be identical to real ones for disciplinary purposes.
The school's lawyer, Jim Guynn, is quoted in the Roanoke Times article defending the policy on the basis that "it's a pretty standard policy across the Commonwealth." In 2011, for instance, four seventh-graders in Chesapeake, Virginia were suspended over bringing a bag of oregano to school. A quick Google search suggests similar policies are in effect in many other states as well.
It doesn't matter if your son or daughter brings a real pot leaf to school, or if he brings something that looks like a pot leaf -- okra, tomato, maple, buckeye, etc. If your kid calls it marijuana as a joke, or if another kid thinks it might be marijuana, that's grounds for expulsion.
The Bedford sixth-grader has been allowed to return to school starting today. But he has to attend a different school, separate from his former friends and peers, and he's still under strict probation until this September. The terms of his original suspension letter state that he'll be searched for drugs at the beginning and end of every school day until his probation is over -- all this despite never having possessed any drugs to begin with.
I wonder how Virginia would treat a student found with a leaf that appears to be Virginia Brght Leaf Tobacco.
That state is mad- and should be sued like any other jurisdiction, perhaps under civil rights statutes, for such violations of human rights.