Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Let's Ruin A Kid's Life And Psyche Over A Fake, Malicious Marijuana Charge!

The kid didn't have pot, but
he was severely punished
anyway but dumb school.  
I've written about abusive so-called zero tolerance school punishments in the past, because I find them so fascinating in an awful way, like a tragic train wreck.

But the latest one takes the cake.

Some school administrators in Virginia suspended an 11-year-old kid from a school for gifted and talented students for a whole year.

Plus, they had criminal charges filed against him and sent him downward into a spiral of depression and anxiety which will take years of treatment.

Why? Because the kid had a lighter and a leaf in his backpack. The school said it was marijuana. Three separate field tests showed that the leaf was not marijuana. The school system basically tried to cover this fact up.

They also figured since the kids might or might not have told his friends the leaf was pot, that was also enough to justify punishing the boy as if he were a drug dealing street thug.

And with the truth out, school administrators still believe they did the right thing.

Here I was naive enough to think schools existed to educate children, but I guess they're there to ruin kids lives instead. At least at Bedford Middle School in Virginia.

The article about this idiocy, reported and written by Dan Casey in the Roanoke Times, is infuriating beyond belief.

It's murky as to whether the kid was pretend bragging that the leaf in his knapsake was marijuana, or whether it was planted there by bullies, or there was some other explanation.

However, even if this was marijuana, which it was not, the punishment meted out to this kid, and the obsfucation by school leaders and police, was itself bullying against the 11 year old. And like I said, these ostensible adults consider themselves fully justified about this.


My guess is the kid probably did joke that the leaf was pot. If that's the case, the school would have been justified in giving the boy a good talking to. That drugs aren't to be taken lightly. Or at all, actually.

It could have been one of those zillions of teachable moments kids have. But nope. It's more fun to ruin a kid's life right?

The kid's parents, Bruce and Linda Bays, have understandably filed a lawsuit.

Casey's Roanoke Times article elaborates:

"It alleges Bedford Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Wilson and school operations chief Frederick 'Mac' Duis violated his due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

It also accuses the Bedford County Sheriff's Office of malicious prosecution, because Deputy M.M. Calohan, a school resource officer, filed marijuana possession charges against the boy despite field tests that indicated otherwise.

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

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

During a school hearing early on in this drama, the Bays asked to see the leaf, but the school wouldn't let them, saing it was evidence.

Again, from the Roanoke Times:

"Bruce Bays said, 'During the hearing, I asked Wilson, What about the field test on the marijuana leaf?'

The assistant principal hemmed and hawed and finally he got around to it and said 'I'm not qualified to interpret the results of the field test,' Bruce Bays said."

During a court hearing on the criminal charge, the sheriff's office asked for a continuance, claiming the leaf hadn't been to the state lab.

The Bays refused. Seeing a lame case, the judge dismissed the charges.

With the criminal charges gone, the Bays said they wanted another hearing at the school to clear their sons name and get him back into classes.

The school officials and the sheriff's office have dug in their heels.

The sheriff's attorney, Jim Guynn said they didn't pursue a malicious prosecution against the kid like his parents allege because the sheriff's deputy identified the leaf found in the boy's backpack as marijuana.

I guess to them it doesn't matter that the leaf wasn't marijuana. If the sheriff deputy decides it is, well, science and facts have nothing to do with anything.

The sheriff's office is also trying to claim the suit is filed in the wrong court, as if that would make it go away.

And under the school's silly zero tolerance policy, it doesn't matter if the leaf was marijuana or from some other plant, like a Japanese maple. If someone pretends it's pot, then it's pot, facts be damned.

I'm not sure why the lighter was in the backpack. Maybe the kid was pretending he had marijuana. Maybe he liked to play with fire like a lot of 11 year old kids do. Maybe some other student planted it there. But it seems the school isn't interested in getting to the bottom of that.

Because, DRUGS! DRUGS! DRUGS!  A Japanese maple leaf that looks vaguely like pot is DANGEROUS!!!!!!!!!!!

Under the school system's rules, the boy's parents were ordered to take the kid to a pediatric psychiatrist to be evaluated for substance abuse problems.

The psychiatrist found no such issues, but did find a lot of damage to the boy's mental health, and the school, and the sheriff's department are clearly to blame.

Writes Casey in the Roanoke Times:

"After the disciplinary hearing, 'he just broke down and said his life was over. He would never be able to get into college; he would never be able to get a job,' Linda Bays said. 

.....the events of the past six months have wreaked havoc on the formerly happy-go-lucky boy's psyche. His parents say he's withdrawn socially, and is now under the care for a pediatric psychiatrist for panic attacks and depression. "

Nice going, sheriff's department and Bedford Middle School administrators! You took what seemed to be a rather well adjusted kid and turned him into a wreck. You must be so proud!

You know what? There probably should have been a vigorous prosecution in this case. But not against the kid with the marijuana leaf that wasn't.

How about charging administrators at Bedford Middle School with child abuse and cruelty to a child?

Judging from the Roanoke Times article, if I was on a jury in such a case, I'd quickly vote to convict.

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