Sissonville student says 'drugs' were candy

By John O'Brien | Dec 15, 2006

CHARLESTON - A Sissonville High School student-athlete is challenging his or her five-day suspension, saying it was handed out by Principal Calvin McKinney as a result of his or her refusal to participate in the school's Narc Program and that the substance thought to be drugs on footage on another student's video phone was Smarties candy.

The listed plaintiffs are known only by their initials -- S.H., suing on behalf of his minor child M.H. The lawsuit was entered Dec. 4 into Kanawha Circuit Court and lists McKinney and the Kanawha County Board of Education as defendants.

The complaint says M.H. received the Smarties from another teacher as reward "for being a good student" in November.

"The plaintiff was informed that a mother of a boy attending the plaintiff's school had viewed video on her son's cellular telephone which purported to show the plaintiff in a classroom putting an item in his nose," the complaint says.

M.H. was called into McKinney's office, where the principal handed out a suspension and demanded he or she become part of the Narc Program, the complaint says.

It adds that M.H. would have had until the final 10 days of school to go undercover and bust two drug users at the school.

McKinney is alleged to have discovered that the substance was only candy, but he insisted M.H. still take part in the program. When M.H. refused, the complaint adds, McKinney upheld the suspension.

During the suspension, which began on Dec. 1, M.H. missed a meeting with college recruiters who were interested in discussing a scholarship effort, the complaint says.

McKinney's actions, the plaintiffs argue, violate West Virginia Code and say that a principal may only suspend a student "if the principal finds that the child unlawfully possessed on the premises of an educational facility or at a school-sponsored function a controlled substance governed by the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.

M.H. seeks an injunction ending the suspension and damages for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of scholarship potential. The suit also makes a claim for punitive damages.

Charleston attorney J. Michael Ranson is representing the plaintiffs and has already entered Exhibit "A" in the file, a print-out of the Smarties website's homepage.

Judge Louis Bloom has been assigned the case.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-2581

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