Family searching for answers after son was searched for marijuana at Bishop Grimes

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — The mother of a high-school senior at Bishop Grimes is looking for answers after she said her son was singled out and searched for marijuana, and she was not notified by the school when it happened.

Walter Johnson has been at Bishop Grimes since 7th grade. He is now a senior at the school. In late January, he was called out of his classroom during an exam.

“That’s when they started checking my clothes and that’s when they asked if I was smoking and I said, ‘No I don’t smoke,'” said Johnson.

They searched his jacket and he emptied his pockets. He says he was later told the teacher smelled a scent of marijuana coming from his area.

They didn’t find any drugs on him. That’s when he was sent back to class to finish his exam.

“After I finished taking my test I thought they would call someone else out, but they didn’t,” Johnson said.

He was the only student searched in the classroom.

“Why didn’t they keep investigating to see, instead of blaming it on one person?” Johnson asked.

Johnson immediately called his mother. She called the school’s principal to find out why her son was the only one searched and why she wasn’t notified after it happened.

“Why didn’t you search the entire area? Did you get to the bottom of it? How did you expect my son to concentrate? This is his senior year and you interrupt him during the class, him, not everybody else, but him,” said Youlanda Johnson, Johnson’s mother.

She was told to set up a meeting with school officials. She showed us pages of emails between her and the principal and superintendent.

“The responses I received in the email did not satisfy the questions I was asking them, to me it was like they wanted us to act like it never happened,” Johnson’s mother said.

Page nine of the student handbook says:

“Likewise, while students may have a constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches or seizures while attending a public school, they understand and agree that employees of Bishop Grimes or their appointees have the right to search their person or property, if the administrators, instructors, or staff reasonably believe that the search will produce evidence of a violation of a school rule, the school’s Code of Conduct, or the law.

Bishop Grimes’ students and their parents/guardians understand and agree that it is within the sole discretion of Bishop Grimes’ administrators to determine whether such a reasonable belief exists. They further understand and agree that Bishop Grimes has the unfettered right to examine, search, or inventory a student’s desk, locker, or other space provided to the student for use at the school.”

The Johnsons want to know if the staff members didn’t find marijuana on their son, why didn’t the search continue until the school got answers.

“I never thought that would happen to me as the years I went through there, I never did anything like that and I never planned on it, so it surprised me,” Johnson said.

His mother would like a formal apology from the school.

“The same way they called him out in front of the class, they should apologize publicly in front of everyone and they failed to do that and my family wants answers,” said Johnson’s mother. “We want to make sure its comfortable for Walter to continue, his tuition is paid, he’s ready to learn and move on with his life.”

NewsChannel 9 spoke to the school’s superintendent, Bill Crist, and he was not able to comment about the incident.


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