By Rebecca Gaunt
A former Campbell High School student, who completed his GED and is pursuing a career in HVAC repair, is now facing a third disciplinary hearing, despite no longer being a student in Cobb County School District.
The student, referred to as N.G., is being represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“The board’s recent decision to remand N.G.’s case for a third hearing is yet another attempt to prolong a frivolous pursuit to punish a former student,” said Claire Sherburne, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights at the SPLC. “We believe this case is in direct retaliation for N.G.’s successful appeal to the Georgia Board of Education and has gone on long enough. Cobb County taxpayers continue to carry this unnecessary expense. We urge the Cobb County school board to immediately decide that it does not have jurisdiction and expunge this unlawful disciplinary outcome from N.G.’s record.”
The SPLC has also criticized the district for denying N.G. “necessary and legally required resources and services for his learning disability, causing him to fall significantly behind in his reading and math.”
Sep. 2021 – N.G., then a 16-year-old sophomore, was suspended for allegedly possessing a vape pen with THC at school. He was expelled for the remainder of 10th grade. He filed an appeal with the state.
September–May – N.G. pursued his GED and applied to trade school.
May 2022 – The state board of education overturned the expulsion, finding that he had been denied his due process rights by the Cobb County School District, but N.G.had already served the term of his punishment.
July 2022 – The Cobb County School district sent N.G. a letter informing him that he was facing another disciplinary hearing and that the district was seeking additional punishment: extended expulsion for fall semester. Read the letter here.
Aug. 3 – At the second hearing, N.G. was found guilty of possessing the vape pen and THC. The hearing officer declined to administer additional punishment. The Courier spoke with Sherburne about the hearing details. Sherburne called the action “retaliatory” and said she believes the intention is to create a chilling effect for any other students considering an appeal. Her attempt to subpoena Superintendent Chris Ragsdale in order to find the source of the directive to pursue additional discipline was unsuccessful. Article here.
August – N.G. and his attorney file an appeal over the guilty finding.
Sep. 15 – The Cobb County school board voted to remand the case to “cure evidentiary and legal deficiencies.” Board member Jaha Howard recused himself and Charisse Davis voted against it.
Sep. 20 – N.G. received a letter stating that the new hearing will seek evidence on the limited issue of whether the Cobb County School District has jurisdiction to pursue action.
Sep. 26 – N.G.’s attorney sent a letter to the district requesting it reconsider its decision to pursue another hearing and immediately issue a decision resolving the appeal. Read the letter here.
From the SPLC press release:
The Cobb County School District conducts hundreds of discipline hearings each year, seeking long-term suspensions or expulsions of students accused of violating the code of conduct. Of the 739 discipline hearings last year, only 21 of those students had a lawyer. Black students and students with disabilities make up a disproportionate number of all discipline cases in the district.
As a policy, the Cobb County School District does not comment on student discipline cases, nor does it cooperate with the Courier.