A Virginia middle school student received a 364-day suspension last September, after officials said they found him with a marijuana leaf.
However, the 11-year-old’s teacher parents, Bruce and Linda Bays, have said that three field tests proved their son did not have a leaf from the plant.
Speaking to the Roanoke Times, the Bays said there are varying accounts of the September 22 incident involving their son, identified as R.M.B.
The couple said they’d heard the boy, who at the time was enrolled in Bedford Middle School’s gifted and talented program, had displayed the leaf in a school bathroom, in his homeroom in another account, and while riding the school bus in yet another version.
An assistant principal later searched the boy’s backpack and pulled out both a lighter and a leaf, before he asked a school resource officer – who is a deputy for the sheriff’s office – to step in, according to the newspaper.
Linda Bays told the Roanoke Times ‘I asked, “Can I see the leaf?” and the deputy said, “No, it’s already in evidence.” We have never seen the leaf. He’s been out of school for six months.’
R.M.B. received an immediate ten-day suspension, before the nearly year-long suspension was issued during a September administrative hearing, the newspaper reported.
The Bays told the Roanoke Times that at a November juvenile court hearing, they found out about the leaf’s multiple negative test results – and that a prosecutor planned to drop their son’s marijuana possession charge.
Linda Bays told the newspaper ‘I immediately sent a letter to [the school’s operations chief Dr. Frederick Duis] requesting a new hearing.
Bays claimed he told her ‘The court system and the school system were two different entities.’
The Roanoke Times reported that the couple has sued both the school district and the sheriff’s office, claiming school officials violated their son’s constitutional due process rights and that the sheriff’s office committed malicious prosecution.
The Bays told the Roanoke Times their son is being treated by a psychiatrist for depression and panic attacks, and is now anxious regarding being in public.
Attorney Jim Guynn, who’s representing both defendants, told the newspaper that the resource officer thought the leaf was from a marijuana plant.
‘It’s the same punishment and exactly the same result,’ told the Roanoke Times regarding how the school deals with fake drugs and real ones identically.
The Bays told the newspaper that their son’s denied any wrongdoing multiple times.
Linda Bays told the Roanoke Times ‘Why would you want an 11-year-old gifted-and-talented student out of school for 364 days?’