Boy, 11, Suspended for Year Over a Leaf

Parents sue school as boy grapples with psychological issues
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2015 7:24 AM CDT
Updated Mar 21, 2015 10:57 AM CDT
Boy, 11, Suspended for Year Over a Leaf
In a file photo, a marijuana plant grows in a hydroponics garden inside an apartment.   (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

The details of the story are hazy, but what's certain is this: An 11-year-old was suspended from school in Virginia after school officials in late September found what they believed was a marijuana leaf in his backpack, along with a lighter. (A suit filed in the case alleges the assistant principal found "crumpled leaves.") The boy, identified only as RMB, was suspended for 364 days for alleged "possession of marijuana," and he faced charges in juvenile court. Turns out, however, that three tests found the leaf wasn't pot at all, and the juvenile charges were dropped, the Roanoke Times reports. But things with the school weren't so simple: Only now, six months after the case began, has RMB been able to return to class at a different school, and he remains on probation. That time away has taken a toll.

The son of Bruce and Linda Bays of Bedford County, both teachers, used to be an easygoing, upbeat child. Now he gets panic attacks, suffers from depression, and fears authority figures. After a disciplinary hearing, his mother tells the Times, "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." He's being treated by a psychiatrist, and his parents have launched a federal lawsuit against Bedford County Schools and the county sheriff's office. But the suit could face a hurdle when it comes to school drug policy: It also bans "imitation controlled substances," defined as a "pill, capsule, tablet, or other item which is not a controlled substance." In the meantime, it remains unclear how the leaf got in RMB's bag. The Inquisitr points to concerns about "zero tolerance" school policies, noting that this month, a 6-year-old was suspended for shaping his hand like a gun—and it wasn't the first such suspension. (More marijuana stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.