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Decision Number
Colton L. expulsion
Troy and Karen L.
Cedar Rapids Community School District
Full Text

The appellants seek reversal of a decision issued by the Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Education on October 9, 2006. The Board decided to expel him for the remainder of the 2006-07 school year, because Colton violated school rules and state law prohibiting the possession and/or distribution of a controlled substance at school. The parties stipulated that Colton?then a 9th grader at Kennedy High School--transferred marijuana from Student A to Student B. He collected $5.00 from the sale.

The District's local policies regarding student discipline state, "[S]uspensions may be invoked for ? such actions as use, sale, and/or possession of narcotics, intoxicating beverages, tobacco, look-alike drugs, or other harmful substances". It goes on to say that "..[A] student may be expelled whenever the student's behavior materially or substantially interferes with the educational process, disrupting the ability of other students to profit from the education provided to them. A student also may be expelled for ? possession and/or sale of narcotics or look-alike drugs?"

At the hearing, the high school and district administration recommended to the Board that Colton be expelled, and the appellants' attorney presented an argument to the Board in favor of suspension. After hearing from both sides, the local Board issued a written decision expelling Colton for the remainder of the 2006-07 school year, because he "sold marijuana to another Kennedy student on school grounds." Since Colton has an individualized educational program (IEP) for special education services, the Board's decision allowed him to attend the District's Alternative Education Center during the period of his expulsion. It went on to say Colton could apply to that Board for reinstatement to Kennedy High School before the expulsion period ended, if he had successful attendance at the Alternative Education Center

The appellants argued before the State Board of Education that possession and sale of marijuana is punishable only by suspension, not expulsion. We conclude that reasonable persons, including secondary students, would have no doubt from reading the disputed policies that possessing, using, and/or distributing marijuana at school could subject a person to expulsion, not just suspension. Also, we conclude the discipline imposed by the local Board is reasonable and not contrary to the best interest of education.

Finally, the appellant argue that "[e]xpulsion should be resorted to only when no reasonable alternative placement is available." Colton's IEP team held a "manifestation determination" hearing and decided Colton's role in the sale of the marijuana was not a symptom of his disability. Once a determination is made that the student's misbehavior is not a symptom of the student's disability, he/she may be disciplined to the same extent as the student's non-disabled peers.

The decision of the Cedar Rapids Community School District Board of Directors made on October 9, 2006, was upheld.