|Mark Ramsay from Flickr. Image altered by Toke of the Town.|
South Salem High School in Oregon recently forced one of its seniors to admit to being under the influence of marijuana, but even though he was not, and has since provided school officials with a negative drug test to prove it, the school still refuses to grant him permission to participate in the graduation ceremony.
Raul Villarreal recently told KGW News Chanel 8 that is was just seconds before he and his date were set to do the grand march at the senior prom when a couple of school administrators accosted him and insisted he had been smoking pot.
Villarreal says that while he has never experimented with marijuana, he eventually admitted to being a stoned because his accusers assured him that an admission of guilt was the only way to escape the incident unscathed. “They were just saying, ‘It would just be easier if you would just tell the truth’ and I’m like, ‘I am telling you the truth.’ I felt like, maybe if I just say I was [high], I can just maybe even go back into the prom.”
Unfortunately, Villarreal’s confession got him tossed out of the prom, not to mention earned him a five-day suspension and an official unvitation to his graduation. That is when his family decided to get to the bottom of the school’s dope-headed accusations by having their son submit to a drug test, which turned out negative results for a number of substances, including marijuana.
However, even though the test results proving Villarreal’s innocence were sent to the school’s principal, David Phelps, he has apparently decided that saving face with the administration is more important than admitting he was wrong. Therefore, while Villarreal will be allowed to graduate, Phelps refuses to let him wear the traditional cap and gown and experience high school graduation.
“I don’t ever want to have this happen to any of our students and it’s a wonderful experience to walk across the stage,” Phelps told the Statesman Journal. “But at the same time we say, please don’t do something that will jeopardize your ability to do that. We warned them multiple times and unfortunately, in this case, this is what happened.
Even after hundreds of fellow students rallied together to sign a petition, asking the school to reconsider the severity of Villarreal’s penalty, Phelps released an open letter to the student body indicating their valiant efforts were worthless.
“We appreciate that you are trying to help a friend,” writes Phelps. “However, student discipline incidents are private matters, by law, that need to be solved through the student and their parents working together with the school.”
“Even when the student tells the public their side of the story,” the letter continues, “the school is still not allowed to share private details in public that might provide more context for the fairness of the decision.”
In the end, the truly uneducated claims of an overzealous law enforcement officer are what caused this unjust situation. In a letter to the Villarreal family, Principal Phelps indicates that Salem Police officer Rob Johnston, a “Drug Recognition Specialist,” confirmed that Raul Villarreal was under the influence of marijuana based on “symptoms consistent with recent marijuana use,” including “rapid eye tremors, reduced cognitive functioning, red conjunctiva.”
Raul’s father, Raul Villarreal Sr., said he is disappointed in the school for not reversing their decision based on the real proof — his son’s negative drug test.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in High Times, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.