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School emotionally traumatizes gifted 11-year-old for possessing a leaf at school


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(NaturalNews) Before public school officials and teachers actually accuse a student of possessing something they are not supposed to have, perhaps it would be a great idea for them to actually know what they are talking about first, lest they inadvertently cause emotional pain and angst to the hapless student.

As reported by the Roanoke (Virginia) Times, what may have sounded like slam-dunk case "in a zero-tolerance age" regarding what officials believed was a contraband drug turned out to be something much different.

Apparently, some kids attending the local Bedford Middle School bragged to other friends of theirs that they had brought marijuana to school. In turn, some of the kids who heard the story told school administrators, and eventually an assistant principal found a green leaf and a lighter in one boy's knapsack. The child was immediately suspended for an entire year and a sheriff's deputy filed pot possession charges in juvenile court.

The days of asking questions or of simply giving warnings and chalking experiences up to the ignorance of youth are long gone.

'It might not even matter if it was pot or not'

The scenario described above took place last September and it involved an 11-year-old student, the son of Bedford County residents Bruce and Linda Bays. At the time their son was a sixth grader in a gifted program at the school.

However, months after the incident, the couple learned that the leaf their son had brought to school was not, in fact, marijuana. After prosecutors had the leaf field-tested three times and it came back negative, charges in juvenile court were dropped.

So, did the Bays' son get back into school? Yes, but only under "strict probation." In the intervening six months, however, the boy is no longer the happy-go-lucky kid he was before the incident. Now, his parents say he has become much more withdrawn and is currently under the care of a psychiatrist because he is depressed and has developed panic attacks.

Both of his parents - who are schoolteachers, by the way - have filed suit in federal court against the school district and the county Sheriff's Office. The suit alleges that Bedford Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Wilson and school operations head Frederick "Mac" Duis violated the boy's due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

"Essentially they kicked him out of school for something they couldn't prove he did," said Roanoke attorney Melvin Williams, the Bays' lawyer.

In addition, the suit has accused the Bedford County Sheriff's Office of malicious prosecution filed marijuana possession charges against the youth without Deputy M.M. Calohan, a school resource officer, ever first testing the substance to see if it was actually pot.

"The field test came back not inconclusive, but negative," Williams said. "Yet she went to a magistrate and swore he possessed marijuana at school."

The suit was filed Feb. 3 and does not ask for specific damages. Williams said that his clients will wait to find out what a jury will say about that.

'He didn't even know he had it'

The school's attorney, Jim Guynn, is also representing the sheriff's office. He has moved to quash the suit, stating that under the school board's anti-drug policies, it may not even matter whether or not the leaf was actually marijuana (if you can believe that).

But, as the paper noted, "Even if the lawsuit is as meritless as he suggests, the case presents a cautionary tale about the current zero-tolerance drug climate in Virginia schools."

The report went on to note that the Bays never actually saw the leaf, because the deputy had already put it into evidence. What's more, the couple's son said never bragged about having marijuana to anyone and did not even know the leaf was in his backpack. They believe that perhaps a high schooler may have slipped it in without the boy's knowledge.

Read the entire report here.

Sources:

http://www.roanoke.com

http://www.thedailysheeple.com

http://www.washingtonpost.com

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