By Rebecca Gaunt
The former Campbell High School student who completed his GED and entered trade school after his expulsion is still waiting for a resolution with the Cobb County School District.
At the Sep. 15 meeting, the school board voted 5-1 to remand the matter back to the disciplinary hearing officer. Charisse Davis was opposed and Jaha Howard recused himself.
In the appeal letter Attorney Claire Sherburne of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote, “The Board’s decision failed to resolve N.G.’s appeal or decide the contested issues raised. Instead, the decision remanded N.G.’s case for additional evidence on the limited factual issue of CCSD’s jurisdiction over the matter.”
N.G. is currently preparing for a career in HVAC repair and has no intention of re-enrolling in Cobb County or any other public school district. His family moved out of Cobb after his expulsion.
Sherburne told the Courier that in the month since that decision, she has tried to reach a resolution with the district. When the issue was not addressed at the Oct. 13 meeting, the SPLC filed an appeal letter with the Georgia State Board of Education.
The SPLC sent a letter to Superintendent Chris Ragsdale Friday to inform him of the appeal. It can be read in full here.
“Again, he has moved on,” Sherburne told the Courier. “He has his GED, and so it’s not that he’s missing school anymore, but it’s still a strain on the family to have to deal with this. It costs them time and resources they wouldn’t otherwise have to spend on this. Then, of course, it’s just the mental burden of knowing that this is getting dragged out and the fight is ongoing with the district.”
Updated timeline of events:
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.
Oct. 13 – Cobb County School Board meeting. N.G.’s appeal is not on the agenda for resolution.
Oct. 14 – SPLC files an appeal with the state board of education and notifies the district.
As a policy, the Cobb County School District does not comment on discipline matters, nor does it cooperate with the Courier.
Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.