Friday, March 25, 2011

Being in possession of Oregano at school may get you expelled

Adam Grass, from Chesapeak Virginia, was a candidate for the National Junior Honors Society. He was little more than an innocent bystander to a schoolboy prank.

"One of Adam’s classmates brought in a bag of Oregano as a joke and displayed it to students during lunch. One student said “it looks like pot”. Adam immediately backed away. Another student took possession of the Oregano. Encountering Adam in the bathroom later, that student asked him to return the oregano to the classmate who had brought it to school in the first place. Adam initially agreed, only belatedly realizing that the owner was not in his next class. Adam then gave the oregano to someone who did have class with the owner. At no time, did Adam treat the so-called “substance” as anything other than oregano or intend to deceive anyone about it. Moreover, when school officials intervened and questioned Adam about the matter, he related exactly what happened, which was corroborated by the other students interviewed by administrators and school officers.

Despite the fact that Adam was an unwitting accomplice to what Institute attorneys describe as nothing more than a schoolboy prank, he was shown “zero tolerance” by school officials. As a result, Adam and two other students were given 10-day suspensions pending expulsion for possession and distribution of an imitation controlled substance. Institute attorneys point out that school officials may be misapplying state law in this matter, in addition to violating Adam’s constitutional rights. Specifically, Institute attorneys argue that oregano does not meet the statutory definition of “imitation controlled substance” under Virginia law and Adam did not possess the requisite intent to “give, sell, or distribute” an imitation controlled substance as defined by the Chesapeake School Board in Article XIII of its “Expectation of Conduct and Sanctions for Violation.” Moreover, “Adam had no intent to violate school policy,” Whitehead wrote in his letter. “His intent was merely to convey a harmless bag of oregano back to its rightful owner.”

What's next on their list of "imitation" controlled substances, nutmeg?

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