BOSTON (AP) — A legal battle involving a high school student and a $10 marijuana cookie is heading back to court.
The Weston High School student was expelled by school officials after another student identified him as the supplier of a $10 marijuana cookie and he refused to discuss what happened with administrators. A Superior Court judge later reinstated the student to school with certain conditions.
But on Wednesday, the state’s highest court overturned Judge Dennis Curran’s decision, finding that he abused his discretion when he ordered school administrators to allow the boy to return to school.
“Instead of evaluating the propriety of the superintendent’s decision, the judge chose to fashion his own remedy to address (the student’s) alleged misconduct,” Justice Francis Spina wrote for the court in the unanimous ruling.
The SJC sent the case back to the lower court and ordered a new hearing before a different judge.
The case began in March 2010 when a student went to the school nurse’s office after he appeared “very high,” according to school administrators. Another student who gave him the cookie said he bought it from a third student, referred to in court papers as “Robert Doe,” a 17-year-old junior.
The boy’s lawyers say school administrators punished him because he refused to talk to them about what happened, on the advice of his father and his lawyers.
School officials said they felt they had no choice but to expel him after he repeatedly refused to tell them his version of events.
After the boy’s father sued the superintendent, Curran granted their request for a temporary injunction and reinstated the boy to school while the lawsuit is pending. He is now a senior at Weston High. The other two students were suspended, but not expelled.
Attorney Leonard Kesten, who represents School Superintendent Cheryl Maloney, said school administrators do not intend to use the SJC’s ruling to expel the boy. But he said school officials will not agree to remove the incident from the boy’s disciplinary record. Kesten said school officials did not agree to conditions the judge put in place for the boy’s return to school, including wiping the incident from the boy’s record.
“The school feels strongly that he should not benefit, he should be treated equally with the other two students who were suspended and their records stand,” Kesten said. “The school will not expunge his record.”
One of the boy’s lawyers said he will press to have the boy’s record expunged.
“Obviously, the judge here thought that this kid should be in school and that there was not a danger to the school system by having him return to school and finish up with certain conditions,” said attorney Dana Alan Curhan.
The lawsuit filed by the boy’s father claims his right to due process and equal protection under the state constitution were violated because he was expelled without adequate evidence and not given a chance to cross-examine his accusers.
“If this had been a criminal case, there is no case here,” Curhan said. “They have this mythical cookie here that was never found, they never tested anybody, nobody knows exactly what’s in it. They would not have been able to charge him criminally with this.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.