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Court Determines if there is Sufficient Evidence to Suspend Student for Marijuana


This case is an appeal from a final administrative order that was made by a school board. The order expelled the appellant from school for possession of marijuana.

Case Background

The principal of the school was notified by a teacher that a student had told her that the appellant, who was a ninth grader, had a marijuana cigarette in the bathroom. The reporting student said that the marijuana cigarette would be with one of three students.

The principal and vice principal went to investigate the reported incident. The vice principal spoke with one of the students and had her empty her purse. She did not have marijuana on her and said that it was either with the appellant or another student. The principal and vice principal went to the classroom where both of the girls were. They escorted the girls to the office. The principal asked the appellant if she had something that she was not supposed to have in school. The appellant responded that she was holding something for someone and she told the vice principal that it was marijuana.

The student then took the joint from her purse and gave it to the vice principal. The vice principal testified at the school board hearing and stated that she was familiar with marijuana and that it was her opinion that the object that was in the appellants purse was a joint. The principal also saw the object and identified it as marijuana.

A New York Criminal Lawyer said the appellant’s mother was called and when she arrived she was told that the appellant was likely to be suspended from school for ten days. An expulsion hearing was recommended. The principal completed a suspension notice with recommendation of expulsion.

A hearing was held in regard to the recommended expulsion of the appellant. The appellant was represented by a lawyer at the hearing. At the end of the hearing the school board stated that the appellant violated one of the rules in the school’s handbook involving possession and expulsion was recommended.

Court Discussion and Decision

The question before the court is whether there was enough evidence for the expulsion of the young student.

A Manhattan Criminal Lawyer said the appellant argues that she was charged with being in possession of what “appeared” to be marijuana, which she claims is not prohibited by the school rules and that there was a lack of evidence introduced at the hearing for the school board’s findings that the appellant possessed marijuana.

The school board points out that the student knew what she was being charged with and they followed the procedures as set forth by the student handbook.

The court finds that the school board was within its rights to expel the appellant. However, the school board must also find an alternative program for the student to attend as they are responsible for this.

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