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Decision Number
Zach Hodges
Diana Hodges
Missouri Valley Cummunity School District
Full Text

Appellant seeks reversal of a decision suspending Zach for the remainder of the school year, finding a second offense of the good conduct policy, barring him from the grounds and all District activities. Zach is a senior this year in the District. On March 18, 2004, a friend asked Zach to meet him in the restroom where he asked Zach if he wanted to some pain relievers. Then the other student asked Zach how much money he had. Zach admitted that he'd paid $3.00 for 2 pain relievers.

Approximately 2 hours later, the principal talked with Zach, who did not appear to be under the influence of a contol substance. No type of medical test was given to determine whether Zach was under the influence of a control substance. Criminal charges were filed against 4 students, including Zach. Zach was accused of possession and use of a controlled substance on school grounds. Zach, who has a history of migraine headaches, consistently used the term "pain reliever" when speaking to the principal about the pills.

Zach had sufficient credits to be awarded a diploma from the District. There was no evidence that Zach sought out the drugs. There was no evidence that he was involved in distributing illegal drugs. As long as a punishment is reasonable and does not go beyond the penalties in the local board policy, the punishment is best left to the local board and school officials.

There is no requirement under Iowa law that school districts conduct any type of commencement or graduation exercise. Graduation exercises are "merely social occasions." Smith by Smith v. Bd. of Educ. North Babylon Union Free Schol Dist., 844 F2d 90, 94(2nd Cir. 1988). Zach was not deprived of his diploma. The District may deny Zach his interest in participating in a public ceremony and has nt acted unreasonably in that denial.

That the decsion of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Valley Community School District, made on April 5, 2004, was affirmed.