A former Campbell High School student was found guilty by the Cobb County School District of violating county policies on drugs and incendiary devices at a hearing last week, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cobb schools would not confirm Wednesday's hearing happened when reached for comment by the MDJ.
“The District cannot comment about ongoing legal matters but does apply both District policy, and the law, consistently for all students, regardless of circumstance," said Nan Kiel, district spokesperson.
Per the state’s review of the case, in September 2021, the student, identified as "N.G.," was stopped by an assistant principal who observed the student had glassy eyes. School officials later found what was believed by a school police officer to be a vape device containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
The district moved to expel N.G. from the school, after which he appealed to the Cobb Board of Education, which upheld the district's decision.
After he appealed to the Georgia Board of Education, state lawyers found N.G.'s due process rights were violated when Cobb school officials failed to provide the student's mother reasonable notice of the charges against him.
Lawyers representing the student also questioned whether the county met its burden of proof, if the punishment was in line with state law and whether the county considered N.G.'s special education support in its decision. The state sided with Cobb schools on those three issues.
After N.G.'s expulsion was overturned, the district held a second hearing regarding his case last week.
The SPLC, which said it represented the student at both hearings before the county's hearing officer, called the latest hearing "retaliatory."
“For the Cobb County School District and Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, it is not enough to rob N.G. of his tenth-grade education in violation of his due process rights,” SPLC attorney Claire Sherburne said in a news release. “The district now wants to re-litigate his case, seeking an extended punishment, as retaliation for N.G.’s successful appeal."
The student received no further punishment but was found guilty of the original offense at the latest hearing, SPLC spokesperson Rebekah Barber said.
"We believe that this finding was without sufficient evidence, so our attorneys are appealing the decision," Barber said. "Once they do, the local board will have ten days to make a decision in regards to the appeal."
The Southern Poverty Law Center slammed Cobb schools in a press release about Wednesday's hearing, accusing the district of underserving children of color, particularly those with disabilities.
"Cobb County’s desire to further punish N.G. is yet another example of how the district disregards children of color and funnels them into the school-to-prison pipeline," the release said. "In Cobb County, Black, disabled people face increased rates of policing and state violence, and this violence often begins at schools. Black students are only 33% of the student population in Cobb County, but they make up nearly 53% of those receiving disciplinary action. Students with disabilities are only about 13% of the student population, but they make up 28% of those receiving discipline."
Cobb school board member Randy Scamihorn declined to comment when asked to address the SPLC's allegations of unequal disciplinary practices in the county.
Cobb school board member Leroy Tre' Hutchins said that while he could not comment on an active case involving student discipline, he is mindful of the issues raised by the SPLC.
"As someone who is looking at the data and always trying to see how we can improve outcomes for all students, this is a concern and will always be a concern," Hutchins said. "I'm going to continue to do my part to make sure that is not the case."
Gimme a break. The discredited and dubious SPLC ihas not been an arbiter of truth for decades. Stevie Wonder can see that it aint the Cobb County Board that is "funneling students into the school to prison pipeline". These kids who are seduced by rap/gang/thug/drug culture are doing that all on their own.
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