Your first thought was probably “finally, a newspaper that is concerned about all the idiotic suspensions for kids who do something like make a pop tart gun or makes a gun with their fingers or something”. Nope. Here’s the Editorial Board
THE NEWS is full of instances in which deficits in common sense produce bad outcomes. But rarely is the deficit so clear, or the outcome so wretched, as in the case of a sixth-grade boy in Bedford County, Va., who received a year-long suspension from school for possessing a single leaf of marijuana — which, on closer inspection, turned out not to be marijuana at all.
The pupil, who is 11, was enrolled in a gifted-and-talented program not far from Roanoke when an assistant principal found the leaf in his backpack in September. Leave aside the possibility — hardly remote in middle school — that the leaf may have been planted as a prank, which the boy’s parents suspect is the case; the leaf was not in dried, smokable form, and there is no suggestion that the boy smoked, sold or purchased this particular leaf — or any other.
The boy was suspended for a year and charged in juvenile court with possession. Then, whoops, they realized that it wasn’t even marijuana. But, the school did not back down, noting that policy prohibits imitation drugs. The parents, both teachers (who would probably freak out if a kid made “bang bang” sounds) sued the school and the sheriff’s department. The school ordered the child to undergo a substance abuse evaluation.
“But by then,” wrote Dan Casey, who broke the story in the Roanoke Times, “the boy had other problems.” His parents says he now suffers from depression and panic attacks and fears being in public. Hardly surprising if you remember that this is an 11-year-old.
He was finally allowed to return to school, but a different one, and is on super-secret double probation, meaning, one slip up, and he’s out.
Whatever damage that single leaf could have done, even if it had been marijuana, cannot possibly compare to the harm that has resulted from the school system’s policies and actions. The real question is: Why couldn’t anyone in Bedford County figure that out?
This begs the question: why hasn’t the Washington Post EB stood up for all the kids treated in the same manner when it comes to fake guns, made with fingers, pop tarts, cookies, as well as water pistols?