An 11-year-old in Virginia has learned a very valuable lesson: don't have leaves that look like marijuana leaves. Or something.

Kids getting suspended from school is hardly newsworthy. It can be for myriad reasons: Vandalism, food fights, breaking a vending machine trying to get free stuff--and then all the stuff my friends didn't do that's suspension-worthy.

But how about carrying a leaf? That seems like a year-long suspension offense, right?

No?

Well, that's the situation a kid and his parents are facing at their school.

Some schoolchildren claim another student bragged about having marijuana. They inform school administrators. 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.

But it wasn't pot at all. In fact, three separate tests determined that it was not marijuana. The juvenile court charges were dropped. But the suspension stood.

Now he's been out of school for six months and according to his parents, it's caused some serious emotional problems, which has forced him into therapy to deal with the panic and depression. They're filing a federal lawsuit:

It alleges Bedford Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Wilson and school operations chief Frederick “Mac” Duis violated his due process rights under the U.S. Constitution.

It also accuses the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office of malicious prosecution, because Deputy M.M. Calohan, a school resource officer, filed marijuana possession charges against the boy despite field tests that indicated otherwise.

 

He's back in school under strict probation and the school district seems to be sticking to their guns on the idea that it was a violation of their zero-tolerance drug policy.