Girl's Journal Entry About Pot Gets Her Suspended From School

student suspended for journal entry about pot

How would you feel if your teenager was suspended from high school for writing a fiction piece about marijuana in his or her personal journal? And while you're thinking about that, here's another question: how would you feel if your teenager was suspended from high school for credible drug-related activities? Somewhere in between these two scenarios lies the truth, and while her father and school authorities fight it out in appeals, a high school girl may not be able to graduate with her class next May thanks to her 2014 suspension.

The school cites their zero-tolerance drug policy for the girl's lengthy suspension, but her dad says what was written in her personal journal may not have reflected reality -- and that the punishment was far too severe.

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Tom Grayhorse says his 17-year-old daughter Krystal was suspended from Buffalo High School in Missouri for more than half a year because she wrote about marijuana in her journal. According to him, school officials had discovered the notebook, read that she had been experimenting with marijuana and thinking about bringing it to school, and confronted the girl, who confirmed she had written the passages. Krystal, who had never been in trouble before, was originally suspended for 10 days, but her suspension was quickly extended from May 9 through the end of the 2014 calendar year.

Grayhorse says not only is there no proof the journal entry was nonfiction, it shouldn't have been enough to warrant such a lengthy suspension:

She does write fiction stories. She likes to write. It could have been part of a story. (...) Her 'possession' constitutes writing something? That is the alleged possession? It was a personal notebook. It wasn't a school notebook she had to turn in. She didn't write anything about being in al-Qaida, she didn't write about giving (marijuana) to anybody else, so why did she receive such a harsh punishment?

The school won't talk specifics to the media because of the legality of the situation, but in general they say that there's a bigger picture to consider. According to the superintendent,

Anything that's drug-related or alcohol-related, we are going to have zero tolerance. The end goal is to provide the student and the family with the resources if they need help. There are lots of sides. The school's side is we always take drug and alcohol offenses seriously and they are fully investigated. [Writing about marijuana] would only constitute an investigation further. We certainly wouldn't discipline based just on something in writing,

At the time she was called into the office, the teen reportedly confessed to a school official that she did possess marijuana -- but her dad says this may not have been true either:

She'd confess to almost anything, within reason, just to get [the questioning] over with. Somehow she allegedly had some [marijuana]. And she ate it and swallowed it and that took care of it and it was gone. So they didn't find anything on her. They did not test her. Legally this is hearsay. Because nobody has an object they can pull out and say, 'This is the marijuana.'

The school board has met amongst themselves and with Grayhorse privately, but they haven't lifted Krystal's suspension, which stays in effect until January 5, 2015. Grayhorse is appealing the decision because he's concerned his daughter won't be able to graduate on time.

Overall, I'm pretty sure there's more to this story than what the dad is presenting. From reading what's been reported, my gut feeling is he either doesn't want to face the fact that his daughter was messing around with drugs or he just wants to push past the incident and get his kid back in school.

I can understand the frustration he must feel over the possibility of his daughter having to make up a year instead of graduating and moving on to college, but at this point, as the parent, I think I'd be looking around for other options. An alternate high school, maybe? Getting this far off track over what may have been a pretty minor flirtation with pot sucks, but I think it's time for him to realize that sometimes in life you have to face the consequences of your actions, however painful they may be, and that it's an unhappy but possibly very important lesson for his daughter to have learned.

What's your take on this story? Does it seem like this kid should have been suspended for so long?


Image via anyvanille/Flickr

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