The Appellant, seeks reversal of the November 17, 2015, decision made by the New Hampton Community School District ("District") Board of Directors ("Board") finding that Student A violated District policies and suspending Student A for the balance of the fall 2015-16 school semester, and the subsequent decision made by the Board on January 21, 2016, to re-review the student discipline action taken against Student A on November 17, 2015, and to change Student A's punishment by suspending Student A for time already served as ordered in the Board's decision on January 25, 2016. At the time of his suspension, Student A was a seventeen year old junior in New Hampton High School ("NHS") and finishing the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year. Student A participated in basketball and football and had no notable disciplinary issues. On November 4, 2015, Principal Sarah Updegraff ("Principal Updegraff") received a phone call from Kelly O'Donnell, Associate High School Principal ("Associate Principal O'Donnell") that Student B, who is a freshman, was found to be in possession of marijuana at the high school.
Deputy Shawver interviewed Student A. Student A stated that Student B approached him at school and asked to show him something. Student B asked to go to a secluded area so they went to Student A's car.Student B told law enforcement there was a silver revolver in Student A's passenger door pocket when they were sitting in the school parking lot which was corroborated when law enforcement located a silver cap gun in Student A's passenger door during the search warrant. Furthermore, Student A admitted to having a fake little pop gun in the car that he found while working construction. Thus, it is indisputable that Student A possessed a look-a-like weapon on school grounds in his vehicle. The Board's finding that Student A possessed a look-a-like weapon on school grounds is supported by substantial evidence.
Principal Updegraff pulled school surveillance videos during the time of these incidents and observed Student A exiting the building with Student B following. On November 9, 2015, Principal Updegraff met with Student A and his parents and provided them with a letter suspending Student A. On November 12, 2015, Superintendent Jay Jurrens sent a letter to Student A and his parents that Student A was being suspended for eight days from November 5, 2015 until November 16, 2015 for violating school board policy 502.9, selling or distributing marijuana to another student on school grounds, and for violating school board policy 502.8, possessing a look-a-like weapon on school grounds.
As long as the punishment is reasonable, the decision of the local board will be upheld. District administration recommended that the Board expel Student A for the violations ? which was within the authority of the Board to do; however, the Board independently reviewed the evidence and made the decision to suspend Student A for the balance of the Fall Semester of the 2015-2016 school year with readmission after completion of a substance abuse evaluation. During its second deliberation, the Board again independently reviewed the evidence and made the decision to suspend Student A for time already served, which was from November 5, 2016 until January 5, 2016. In total, this amounted to thirty-two days of school that Student A was suspended
Under these circumstances we cannot say that the Board acted unreasonably. Student A has been back in school since January 5, 2016. Thus, we find the punishment was reasonable.
For the foregoing reasons, the decision of New Hampton Community School District Board made on January 25, 2016, finding that Student A violated school policy 502.9, selling or distributing marijuana to another student on school grounds, and Student A violated school board policy 502.8, possessing a look-a-like weapon on school grounds is AFFIRMED. Furthermore, the decision to suspend Student A for time served is also AFFIRMED.