A high school in Wake County, North Carolina has suspended a student for “drug possession”—even though she did not have any drugs on her and passed a drug test.
The reason given by Garner Magnet High School for suspending 15-year-old Jakaya Johnson was that a school resource officer smelled marijuana in the hallway and followed her into a classroom. An assistant principal then determined that her hand smelled like marijuana. How these two officials acquired their expertise in the scent is unclear. Johnson subsequently took a drug test which determined that she had no drugs whatsoever in her system
Johnson has been suspended and compelled to participate in a counseling program—to counsel her, presumably, for her lack of drug use.
While the school has stuck by its arbitrary decision, it has informed Johnson and her understandably furious mother that she can appeal the suspension through an incredibly complex process which places the burden of proof on her, even though she has already proved her innocence.
Like most other manifestations of bad drug policy, people of color are disproportionately affected by school suspensions and expulsions.