A student at Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio was expelled last week after he was accused of smelling like cannabis in class. Despite the claim and immediate punishment, the student was never found with pot in his possession, and even submitted to multiple drug tests, which all came back clean.
The ordeal began last Wednesday, when a teacher said that he smelled weed during a first period class. At that point, Jordan Evans, a black student, was singled out and sent to the principal's office, where he was immediately searched.
"The principal made me take everything out of my pockets and made me take off my shoes, as well as pull up my sweatpants. She didn't find anything at all. I didn't have anything at all," Evans told Dayton24/7Now.
Even without any evidence to support the teacher’s claim, the principal punished Evans to 10 days of at-home suspension, and later expelled the student. But before Evans could be removed from the school building, his mother, a registered nurse, came to the administrators office with a take-home drug test, and administered a THC screening on her son in front of school officials. The test showed that Evans had no cannabis in his system at all.
"I took a drug test up to the school and I drug tested my son in front of the school and the principal,” Evans’ mother, Katina Cottrell, told Dayton24/7. “They saw the results and they came back negative."
Realizing the school would not take the on-site drug test seriously, Cottrell took her son to a nearby urgent care, where he submitted to another drug test, which also came up clean. Northmont School District officials have refused to comment candidly on the situation, and have instead directed reporters to the school’s incredibly vague conduct guidelines.
“Northmont High School has adopted a Student Code of Conduct which sets expectations for student behavior and which specifies consequences when misconduct occurs,” a district spokesperson told Dayton24/7. “We provide all students considered for suspension or expulsion an opportunity to speak against possible discipline and to otherwise tell their side of the story. State and federal student privacy laws prevent us from publicly discussing a particular student's discipline. Therefore we cannot respond.”
Evans’ mother told reporters that she worried the incident was a case of racial discrimination, especially considering that the school district has long struggled to reconcile a hostile racial envirnoment. In 2018, administrators went as far as to hire a diversity coach to try and bring the community together. But after Evans’ suspension and subsequent expulsion, it is clear that Northmont still has a real problem.
"I feel like my principal and teacher could've handled it way better because they could've asked any other students. They could've smelled others, but they picked me," Evans said. "I've only been gone for five days, but being suspended dropped my grades down tremendously.”
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