Update: This story is actually is actually six months old! Reason's Robby Soave covered it back in March. Read his excellent account here.
In July, a judge allowed the Bays' lawsuit against the school district to proceed. Read about that here.
The leaf you see to the right is not a marijuana leaf. It's from a Japanese maple leaf and despite its possessing no psychoactive qualities, its possession was enough to get an 11-year-old boy suspended FOR A YEAR from a Virginia public school.
Writes Dan Casey in the Roanoke (Va.) Times:
An assistant principal finds a leaf and a lighter in the boy's knapsack. The student is suspended for a year. A sheriff's deputy files marijuana possession charges in juvenile court.
All of the above and more happened last September to the 11-year-old son of Bedford County residents Bruce and Linda Bays. He was a sixth-grader in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School.
There was only one problem: Months after the fact, the couple learned the substance wasn't marijuana. A prosecutor dropped the juvenile court charge because the leaf had field-tested negative three times….
Their son remains out of school — he's due to return Monday on strict probation. But in the meantime, 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 His parents say he's withdrawn socially, and is now under the care of a pediatric psychiatrist for panic attacks and depression.
The couple — both are schoolteachers — have filed a federal lawsuit against Bedford County Schools and the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.
Welcome to the beyond-Kafkaesque world of zero-tolerance policies, in which gifted-and-talented kids get bounced for a year for no good goddamn reason. This is why school choice is winning, folks, and why it will continue to do so despite all the might forces arrayed against it. We're getting too old for this shit, as parents, as taxpayers, as a country, for god's sake.
All's well that ends well, right? Well, no.
The Bays are out money for lawyers and doctors, and they're out the time they've taken to homeschool their child. Meanwhile, his psyche is very fragile now compared to its state before Wilson found the leaf in his knapsack.
Linda Bays said that based on scuttlebutt she's heard since his suspension, she believes one or two students who dislike her son put the leaf in his knapsack, probably on the bus, and then informed school officials about it.
That's left a situation in which, Bruce Bays said, "any kid can tell on another kid and set that kid up. And a principal or assistant principal could potentially push a kid out of school."
Linda Bays added: "Why would you want an 11-year-old gifted-and-talented student out of school for 364 days?" That's a good question. It seems out of proportion to the offense.
Hat tip: Washington Post.
When the youngs set the olds adrift on ice floes, it will be for utterly asinine antics such as this one.
In many ways, this situation sums up virtually all that is wrong in twilight America: an educational system that is more devoted to stupidity than teaching; brutal and unresponsive and mostrously idiotic authority; a fear of pot that outmatches the fear of witches in colonial Massachusetts; and an expensive and bureaucratic court system and school boards fully capable of exploiting it against the very parents and taxpayers who support it.
Related: "3 Reasons School Choice is Growing"