GARNER, N.C. – A 15-year-old Wake County High School student was suspended for possession of drugs based solely on the smell of marijuana and the family is saying the school made a mistake.
Garner Magnet High School sophomore Jakayla Johnson said she was in Chinese Class with about 30 other students when a school resource officer interrupted the class saying they smelled marijuana from the hall.
“I was feeling embarrassed because they called me out of everybody,” Jakayla Johnson said.
After about five minutes of searching the class, Johnson said the officer singled her out.
“They told me to spread my fingers and they smelled my fingers,” she said.
Jakayla Johnson said she was taken to the office and patted down. An officer made her remove her shoes and went through her book bag as well.
Wake County School documents obtained by CBS North Carolina states:
“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”
Jakayla Johnson was suspended for five days because of this. She was also required to take drug classes or face suspension for the rest of the year.
Jakayla Johnson’s mother, Tameka, said when the school called to notify her of the suspension she couldn’t believe what they were saying.
“I said not my child. You have the wrong child, because I know my child,” she said.
Tameka Johnson said the day of her daughter’s suspension she took her to a medical lab to get a drug test. The results of the test came back negative for any drugs or alcohol.
Tameka Johnson said she presented the results to school officials. She said she wanted apology and to have Jakayla reinstated into classes.
Tameka Johnson said instead, school officials presented her with a document that said Jakayla Johnson was suspended for possession of marijuana.
She asked school officials how this was possible when they claimed to only have smelled marijuana. Tameka Johnson said school officials told her there was no other option to check on the document, so they checked “possession.”
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.
Wake County schools declined to comment on this specific incident due to student privacy.
The system 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.
As for the removal of the suspension, officials said that has to come from an official appeal to the school board.
Jakayla Johnson’s appeal date is set for May 18 but she said during her suspension, she missed at least three tests and is still struggling to catch up on her work.