The Absurd Reason This Student Was Suspended Over Marijuana

May 9th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

A 15-year-old high school student in North Carolina was allegedly suspended for five days because school officials said she smelled like marijuana.

studentThe Garner Magnet High School student told CBS News she was in Chinese class when school officers entered the room, claiming they smelled marijuana in the hallway. The school resource officers reportedly asked Jakayla to spread her fingers to smell them before taking her to a separate office to conduct a search.

"I was feeling embarrassed because they called me out of everybody," Jakayla told CBS News. "They told me to spread my fingers and they smelled my fingers."


"It was explained to Jakayla that for her hands to smell so pungently of marijuana she would have to have possessed it in her hands at some recent point in time," an official wrote on a document regarding the suspension, which was obtained by CBS News. Despite the fact that school resource officers did not find any marijuana in her possession during the search, the student was suspended for five days.

After being contacted by the school about the suspension, Jakayla's mother brought her daughter to a drug testing facility. She tested negative for any drugs or alcohol, but when the results were presented to the school, officials informed the mother that Jackayla's suspension was for possession, according to news reports. They had even checked "possession" on the report and told the student's mother it was because "there was no other option to check on the document."

drug free

"Her mother said she she now fears this incident will follow her daughter for the rest of her life and she’s worried this is happening to other students who might not know how to stand up for themselves," CBS News reports. "The [Wake County School District] did say while there is no specific policy in the student hand book for suspensions over the scent of marijuana, school administrators can use their best judgment to determine if they believe a student is in possession of drugs."

Without concrete evidence that Jakalya used or possessed marijuana, the school reportedly relied on smell in this case.

Jakalya's mother is right to worry about how this incident will affect her daughter.

Young Black women are disproportionately punished in schools, suspended at a rate six times greater than that of their white peers, a 2013 report from the African American Policy Forum found. This disproportionate punishment feeds into a cycle known as the school-to-prison pipeline, where petty penalization in schools influences future behavior, making students more likely to wind up in the criminal justice system.

"[T]he difference in how white and [B]lack girls are disciplined often isn’t just about who has the money to buy their way out of harsh punishment and who doesn’t," The Nation reports. "Making a decision about whether and how to discipline a student is subjective, so biases around race and gender creep into calls educators have to make every day."

ATTN: reached out to the Wake County School District for comment, but a representative was not immediately available. We will update accordingly.

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