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Yorktown Responds To Suit; Defends Marijuana Suspension

Counsel for Yorktown Central School District responded Monday to a lawsuit that claims a high school student's marijuana suspension was unfair.
Counsel for Yorktown Central School District responded Monday to a lawsuit that claims a high school student's marijuana suspension was unfair. Photo Credit: Provided by Karli Wheeler

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Yorktown school officials have given their version of events in response to a 14-year-old high school girl's lawsuit challenging of her suspension for marijuana possession.

Yorktown Central School District administrators submitted their side of the story to the court Monday, a  version that defended the three-month suspension. They said the student was not singled out or treated unfairly.

In her lawsuit , the freshman – referred to as “A.S.” – allegedly admitted having a marijuana cigarette on campus at a Dec. 21, 2012 “movie night.” On Jan. 9, she was subject to a disciplinary hearing to determine the severity of her punishment.

However, the student and her mother – referred to as “J.S.” in the lawsuit – waived their right to a hearing and signed an agreement that A.S. would be suspended for one year but return April 15 on a probationary basis. Rebecca Valk, an attorney for the district, disputes the claim that they were “coerced” into signing the agreement.

“At no time were J.G. or A.S. coerced into accepting the waiver,” Valk wrote in an affidavit. “Rather, they were advised of their options to accept the waiver or proceed with a hearing.”

The affidavit also maintains that the girl’s mother was properly informed about the disciplinary process and was not mislead into believing the suspension would  last only five days, as the lawsuit contends.

The mother also argues her daughter was an honor roll student and that a three-month suspension was "unreasonable" for someone with no disciplinary history. Valk acknowledged that the student had a clean record and said that was why she offered the waiver and received a penalty on the “low end.”

“[Principal Joseph] Degenarro, [Assistant Principal Randall] Glading and I all maintained that it was within the range of penalties given by the Yorktown Central School District for this type of infraction, that the possession of a drug on school property is quite serious, and that the school authorities had considered A.S.’s lack of disciplinary history in determining the appropriate penalty,” Valk wrote.

The mother is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, medical counseling bills, punitive damages and attorneys fees. The lawsuit also requests that the school district expunge the student's records and allow her to return to Yorktown High School.

The district is requesting the case be dismissed.

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