Yorktown Student Sues District Over Marijuana Suspension

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A Yorktown High School student has filed a lawsuit claiming her suspension for marijuana possession was unfair.
A Yorktown High School student has filed a lawsuit claiming her suspension for marijuana possession was unfair. Photo Credit: Provided by Karli Wheeler

Update: This story was updated at 7 p.m. to include comments from the Yorktown School District.

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A 14-year-old Yorktown High School student and her mother have filed a lawsuit against the Yorktown Central School District for what they say is an unfair suspension relating to marijuana possession.

According to the lawsuit, the freshman – referred to as “A.S.” – was in possession of a marijuana cigarette on Dec. 21, 2012, during a “movie night” at the school. The student said she did not smoke or have any intention of smoking the joint, which she allegedly gave to another student, referred to as "Jane Smith." 

About two weeks later, the student and her mother were brought into the assistant principal's office and told she would be suspended for five days and would have to complete three counseling sessions with a school therapist.

When the suspension was over on Jan. 9, “A.S.” was subject to a disciplinary hearing to determine if additional action was needed. The district allegedly decided to suspend her for a year, but said she would be eligible to return to school on probationary basis after three months.

The lawsuit, filed Jan. 29, claims the student’s Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when the district imposed the suspension because it was her first offense.

“The disciplinary actions imposed by Defendants, violated Plaintiffs’ substantive due process right, in that it was arbitrary and capricious, and failed to adhere to standards of fundamental fairness, as the disciplinary action imposed was not appropriate to the serious nature of the offense and did not consider the absence of any previous disciplinary records,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also alleges that "A.S.," a Russian immigrant, was treated differently because of her origin, denied a right to free education, "coerced" into an unfair hearing and had her privacy violated when an assistant principal failed to close a door when discussing the issue.

The student is seeking “damages for emotional distress, current and future medical and related counseling bills, current and future educational related expenses, punitive damages, costs and attorneys’ fees." The amounts would be determined by a trial.

The lawsuit also requests that the school district expunge her records and allow her to return to Yorktown High School.

Kari Wheeler, Media Manager with the Yorktown Central School District, said "District officials are unable to comment due to legal and privacy issues."

The lawsuit (attached below) was filed in federal court for the Southern District of New York in White Plains.

Attached: (jan._29_2013._j.g._vs._ycsd.pdf)

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Comments (11)

jmjedm1: That's a weird question. Why would I send my children to school with marijuana? I don't think this parent sent her child to school with it either. I haven't missed the point, nor have the parent(s) that have filed the lawsuit, as they are trying to make their point. Who cares about law you ask? All of the law abiding citizens, of course. The school was, and always is, represented by legal counsel, and you feel that the parents should not have done the same? This whole situation has come to light because marijuana is against the law, and in the student's case, it is a violation, not a crime. We need administrators to be fully transparent and the punishments that they dole out, to fit the crime. There is so much to this story that we would all like to know, but will never have the chance, as the record will be sealed. It will be recorded as the parents winning an undisclosed amount.

to live free-you like the parents filing the lawsuit have missed the point. Who cares about law-you seem to know so much. It is very sad what these parents are facing-they should not be calling lawyers they should be getting professional help with the school. Maybe she was bullied in to doing this; maybe it was peer pressure. Dont worry what I have authority over. Do you send your children to school with marijuana?

To jmjedm1-I do not see anywhere in the article or lawsuit where you could interpret that the parents are trying to make a statement that this is normal. However, I do see the statements that you have directly made. First of all, someone would have to have a drug problem in order to be accepted into a rehab program. Apparently you have concluded that she has such problem. Secondly, you have even suggested jail time. Jail time for possession of one joint? What are you crazy or just oblivious to reality?
"Many people are surprised to learn that unlawful possession of marijuana is not even a crime in New York State. Unlawful possession of marijuana is classified by our legislature as a violation. A violation is the legal equivalent of a traffic ticket."
jmjedm1, I really hope that you do not hold any position of authority over anyone's children except your own.

I guess the parents are trying to make a statement that being at a school function with drugs is perfectly normal. I do believe their are rules & laws stating this is totally illlegal. This student belongs in mandatory in patient drug rehab--or jail-obviously he or she is using drugs already, on or off school property. Yorktown School administration work very hard to make this district one of the best in Westchester County. As a parent of children in this district, I agree with their decision.This is not the first time this will happen & certainly not the last. Precedent will be set for future .

When I was in HS, if you got caught with drugs you got the crap beat out of you. Then you got expelled. Then your parents beat the crap out of you.

I can't believe with what Yorktown charges for school taxes the administration would have a sign that dilapidated and rotted hanging in front of the school....Shameful and embarrassing...

Zero tolerance. It is illegal whether you are smoking it or not. The child and mother should revisit what is actually going on in their lives. We accept this we might as well let them smoke! Plus, they are suing the school, which means our kids will suffer with less programs. Discipline is needed. Say no to drugs! That statement doesn't say say no to smoking, injecting, what have you! Why did she have it. Period! End of story. I am mom too and I would be so concerned on how my kid got it in the first place. Now we will all pay. Parents try their best, but times kids find trouble, we need to react to them not worry about our child's rights. They weren't. Very upsetting. Sign of the times.

Good luck with that. It might intimidate the school to bring her back, but they won't win a lawsuit. Schools have waaaay too much immunity - they basically have to do something outrageously unconstitutional (or at least outageously take away what little student rights kids have in school) in order for the plaintiff to win.

Yes, I agree, zero tolerance. But if you read the lawsuit, "Jane Smith", the girl that the joint was given to, hasn't received any disciplinary action. If this is true, then the district is more liable. Unless "Jane Smith" was "working" for Dr. Glading, the assistant principal. That scenario opens up another can of worms. And why is the assistant principle handling this matter? Is it that this situation is not serious enough to warrant the direct involvement of the principal himself? I predict that the plaintiffs will win and that Dr. Glading will be subjected himself to disciplinary action.

Seems like there is more to the story than is being told here, like did she have a previous incident that caused them to suspend for so long her this time, or did something happen at the hearing. It would appear that she was not acknowledging any wrongdoing in actually having it on her possession, with her claim that it was for someone else. I'm sure there is a school policy on this, what does it say?

Should be zero tolerance for possession on school property, even if she did give it to another kid.