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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Question Wrongfully Accused of Drug Use and Possession at School

    My question involves education law in the State of: Missouri

    Good Afternoon. I am in need of some advice.

    This week my son was suspended from Middle School for 10 days. I received a phone call early afternoon from the asst. principal advising me that my son was in possesion of marajuana and had also used it in the restroom with another student. I was told that by the asst principal that my son left the lunch room and proceeded to the restroom and another student followed him. Within a few minute 2-3 other students entered the restroom and overheard my son and the other student talking about "pot". Again, According the to asst principal the students told a teacher that they could smell pot in the bathroom. The teacher proceed to the restroom with the Janitor. The assistant principal and the DOO/also acting asst vice superintendent were called into the bathroom as the teacher and the janitor were unsure of the smell. All boys involved were searched. They were asked to empty pockets, take of shoes, and so on. During the course of this, many other student came and went through the restroom and were able to view these students being searched. The asst principal told me that he smelled marajuana on my son. He also stated that the the other accused student told him that he did use marajuana with my son and that my son gave it to him. He also stated that my son was being uncooperative and continued to hold his ground and say that he did not use or posess any drugs of any kind. I was told to pick up my son and that he would be suspended for at least a 10 day period and that there would be a hearing that we would have to attend to determine if my son would be allow back in school.

    I was furious with my sons actions and of course so far, I had only heard one side of the story. I picked up my son, he was embarassed, angry, sick to his stomach, and so many emotions tied up into one. He and I had a very firm discussion regarding the seriousness of these allegations. He told me that the superintendent (actually it was the DOO/acting assistant superintendent) questioned him over and over about the situation. My son also said that the superintendent told him that he would see to it that my son be "posecuted to the full extent of the law for possession and distribution" if he did not cooperate. My son held his ground and said "I didn't have anything, I never did, I never smoked anything, have me tested" and he was again, angry, humiliated, crying, and so on. So... I did. I took him to a licensed recovery center that offered fairly in-expensive testing. I had them preform a 5Level UA. The Test Results were Negative as I had expected they would be after my conversation with my son.

    I contacted the principal of the school the following morning and told her that I would like to have a conference with her, the assistant principal, the superintendent and any other school official who may have been involved. At that time she was unaware of the details of the situation as she was not at school the day of the occurance. She stated that she wasn't available that day or the next, but maybe the day after that she could bring everyone together. I told her that would not work as my son is already failing a required class with an F each of the already past 3 quarters of the year. She told me not to worry about him now failing because he had already be retained once, and he would not be retained again, as in her words "you just don't retain a student twice". She advised me not to tell him that because he would basically not be worried about any class for the rest of the year. She told me that she would call me to set a specific time on thursday. I waited all afternoon tuesday, Wednesday, & another 1 hour Thursday morning with no phone call. On wednesday, I received the official infraction notice from the school which was very very clear that he posessed and used pot. As my son had now missed three days, I had to do something. I went to the school and again the principal was "unavailable". I was offered to speak with the asst vice principal, because he "was" available. I agreed. I sat down in his office and instead of asking me how he could help me, I guess he assummed I needed to hear his side of the story again. However, this time, he left out that he actually smelled it on my son, also said that they weren't 100% sure that marajuana was what they smelled, and that nothing at all was found on any of the boys. No lighter, No matches, No baggies, No cigarettes, no NOTHING. I showed him the drug test results which he did NOT care to see. So now we have No evidence, only another student who "said so" and a clean drug test. I asked that the record be expunged at both the school level and the juvenile court level. The asst principal told me that he would do no such thing after what seemed to be a 3 hour conversation about he said, she said, which is what he feels is probable cause.

    So by this time now my sons name and reputation along with my families is being ruined from many different directions. With this record in both the school and the judicial system he will have difficulties finding employment as he is almost 16 (is he supposed to lie on the application and say that he hasn't been charged with a criminal act?), difficulty with his social life, profiled by teachers, police, courts, and so on. And it's unfortunate, but yes that does happen. He want to join the Military when he is finished with high school, but this incident will also hinder his ability for acceptance. The emotional/mental anguish alone is more than he should have to go through. I am confident he did nothing wrong. It is all based on he said, she said. I feel he needs to be represented at both the school hearing and the juvenile hearing and of course it is very expensive and without selling things we cannot afford it within the short period of time we need it.

    Is there anyone who can assist us? I am not sure that I could represent him the way he deserves to be. My entire family and I are also extremely emotional about the situation. It is as though he is being pointed out because of his long hair and attitude alongside his attire. He has lost trust with school officials because he feels like no one will ever believe him about anything.

    Also can the school or district or individual be sued to have the infraction expunged or removed from record? Removed from his juvenile record? Required to cover court and attorney fees I will encounter? Punitive damages?

    Please, any assists is greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Key West, FL

    Default Re: Wrongfully Accused of Drug Use and Possession with Suspension and More

    What are you talking about when you say "judicial system" or a "criminal act" on a job application? Get a flipping grip.

    Obviously from what you said, this is not in the judicial or juvenile justice system. Juvie offenses are NOT reportable on any job application. First, he would actually have to be charged and that is not going to happen as there was no probable cause and obviously no evidence to take it any further. He would have to be found in possession of weed. Depending on local law it could well be just a civil infraction and not criminal at all. But again, obviously you and he don't have to worry about anything like that.

    Ten days is an over-reaction. Those idiots don't even really know why he is suspended and apparently can't articulate it. They should not have questioned your son for that length of time without notifying you, but that is a minor item.

    First, you need to find out what the administrative remedies are? Is there an administrative method of challenging the suspension? There should be and you must follow it before you even think about legal action.

    Legal action will be a waste of time and you'll have all sorts of fallout. Expect to move to a new school district. The school has all sorts of defenses and resources to defend a civil action, even if you can bring one. You'd have to do it in state court in your county which is not going to be friendly to your action. You have no grounds to go to federal court even if you wanted to blow 50k or so on attorney fees. You'd get lots of media attention and none of it good. You won't get any money to speak of even if you won somehow as you can not show any real damages. You can't collect for bad feelings. You can not collect for emotional distress and neither can your son.

    To collect for emotional damages, and this is something lots of people posting here should know, there is something called the impact rule. If you don't suffer physical injury you can not collect for emotional injury. The exceptions are intentional torts and things like defamation and invasion of privacy. No exceptions apply to your case.

    Also, things as common, big and important as school systems have all sorts of defenses written into statutory law and they have even more in case law. No attorney will take your case of hurt feelings on contingency, you will be paying up front and through the nose. If you think you will come out ahead financially you are seriously deluded.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Wrongfully Accused of Drug Use and Possession at School

    You can look for sources of free legal help here. Your son may qualify for a public defender if in fact juvenile charges have been filed, but you haven't made clear that any such charges were filed.

    Your school district will offer a system of administrative appeals following an initial penalty by a school. You will need to investigate how that system works and, should you want to proceed with an appeal, go through that system.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Default Re: Wrongfully Accused of Drug Use and Possession at School

    I kindly thank you for the link and I will take a look at it as soon as I can. Should the School Board Hearing not go as planned I have been informed that I do have the right to appeal as well as request the record be removed if they feel there is no justification to further their claim. I have my ducks all in a row for the school board hearing, but I haven't ever been to one so I am not quite sure I will be given the necessary time to state the information I wish to, which may be where the appeal is deemed necessary.

    The School Resource officer has only told us at this point that a report has been filed with the local juvenile judicial system, and that once they have contacted me they will set a date for a juvenile hearing with the juvenile judge. I am not sure if this is the correct process or not. From what I had read online it appears that a case worker or someone of that nature would contact us and that person would decide if charges will be brought against him and if a hearing will be scheduled.

    Although, I was advised by an attorney that I should not contact any other parents involved unless I felt I could accomplish something, I have, by word of the other infractioned students parent they were told that it was "the other student involved" (my son) who has admitted to use and that it was provided by their son. My son did not admit to anything, nor did he use according to the 5 Panel UA drug test results which I obtained from the local recovery center facility. In fact we were told that the other student admitted the exact same thing to the facilty during the period of which I call "interrogation", but that my son was insistant that nothing occured at all, he advised the staff members that he was just in the restroom because lunch made him feel like he had to vomit. They did make it very clear to me that they did not believe him and that since he wasn't cooperating he could face the full 180 day expulsion as a result as well as face juvenile criminal charges.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011

    Default Re: Wrongfully Accused of Drug Use and Possession at School

    There is nothing to do from our side if it is crossed the actual law code. But this situation seems to be taken the cause of an appeal.

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