Wednesday, November 13, 2013

School Suspension Or Expulsion For Controlled Substances

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

A frequent situation facing distressed parents is when their child is placed up for suspension or expulsion for possession or sale of a controlled substance, aka drugs.  Here are the basics.

What is a controlled substance?  These are generally defined in the California Health and Safety Codes §11053-§11058.  You can read this code at your leisure but it covers all the usual suspects, such as the typical illegals: cocaine, cannabis/marijuana, heroine, ecstasy, speed, etc., and prescribed substances, such as Ritalin, Codeine, Oxycodone and other medications.

In a nutshell, students are prohibited from carrying, storing, ingesting, passing along, or selling (etc.) controlled substances.  If a student is caught doing any of the above by the school, they will usually, at a minimum, be suspended.  They may be placed up for expulsion, even on a first offense.  Punishment could be lessened if a student merely possesses a controlled substance for which they have a prescription, in an amount that does not look suspicious (e.g. not 60 loose pills when they only need 1 a day).

If a student sells a controlled substance, the school has no discretion and must put the student up for expulsion. The student must be expelled if the facts are proven (which is a discussion for another day).  There may still be discretion in what type of expulsion a student receives even in these dire circumstances (drug sales).

A good attorney can try to negotiate the least possible punishment and may open the school district's eyes to some possibilities they would never think of in a drug situation.

What are drug sales?  In loose terms: money or other item in exchange for a controlled substance, whether the student takes a profit or not.

I frequently have parents in my office saying their child did not sell drugs so they should be able to defend the expulsion easily.   Here is the situation (their child is Student B):

Student A gives money to Student B
Student B gives money to Student C
Student C takes money
Student C gives drugs to Student B
Student B gives Student A the drugs
Student B does not keep money or drugs

Is Student B selling?  What do you think?

Student B "Did not sell!" the parents say.  "He did not profit so this is not a sale." The arguments around this are extremely weak as the student did exchange drugs for money.  Such conduct can warrant a mandatory expulsion recommendation for drug sales.

Criminal charges may also not be far behind when the school district reports the alleged sales to the police.

The bottom line is that parents need to talk to their kids about not buying, selling or brokering sales of controlled substances, or they could have a serious reckoning coming.  Drugs are usually pretty easy to get (or so I hear) in our schools, and the peer pressure to "help" someone find drugs, to ingest this or smoke that, can be tremendous.  High school is not forever.  The future awaits and it may be seriously tarnished if expulsion moves forward.

Best,

Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
Email: help@edlaw4students.com
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Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

1 comment:

  1. What if a student or students get caught smoking a electronic ciggerare and the school officer sees them but only calls one student out. Sends him to principle and principle searches back pack and finds a burned tin foil and suspends student for nine days. But has no officer or report or nothing for student or parent to sign.

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