Our client, a high school senior in the Black Belt, was suspended for possessing pepper spray at school. In September, the client had pepper spray in her backpack. At some point during class, the pepper spray was released inside her backpack and spread throughout the classroom, causing students to be evacuated. Once it was discovered that our client had the pepper spray, she was told to take it to the resource officer, in which she did. When our client asked for the return of the pepper spray at the end of the day, she was advised that her mother needed to come for a meeting to discuss her violation of the policy against having it. The principal of the school recommended 45 days at the Alternative Learning School in addition to a five-day suspension. The mother appealed and requested a meeting in front of the area school board.
Elizabeth Hollie, Rural Economic Improvement Project (REIP) Staff Attorney, represented the child at the meeting in mid-September. She explained that the client obtained the pepper spray prior to beginning the school year for her safety, and kept it on her key chain. Our client was used to having it on her key chain, not realizing it was a violation. The client was allowed to read her written statement of apology. Attorney Hollie reminded the Board that the student has a record of being on the honor roll and is not a troublemaker. Attorney Hollie also mentioned the student’s volunteer work, helping teachers and the principal at school as well as working with her youth organization at church. Attorney Hollie then requested leniency, and that our client be allowed to return to school. After closed discussion, the Board accepted the Superintendent’s recommendation that our client be allowed to return to school with only the five-day suspension.
Congratulations to Attorney Elizabeth Hollie for a great outcome for one of our young clients! If you are someone you know is facing school discipline, please call 866-456-4995 today!
By: Elizabeth Hollie, REIP Project Staff Attorney and member of LSA’s Education Practice Group