COBB COUNTY, Ga. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is representing a former Campbell High School student who is facing a new hearing today before a hearing officer designated by the Cobb County Board of Education after the state board of education found that the district had expelled the student in violation of his due process rights.
In May, the Georgia Board of Education reversed the Cobb County school board’s decision to expel 16-year-old N.G., a sophomore student at the time, who had been accused of possessing a vape pen that allegedly contained THC. The district expelled him for almost a full school year without regard for his due process rights. Even though N.G. served that entire expulsion while his appeal was pending, the Cobb County school board now seeks to extend his punishment.
N.G. has no desire to return to Campbell High School or the Cobb County School District, and he is no longer a resident of Cobb County. His mother, a 17-year resident of Cobb County, moved to a different county because of the district’s actions towards N.G. After he was expelled last year, he went on to earn his G.E.D. and is currently enrolled in a trade school. Still, the Cobb County school board will not let N.G. and his family put this case behind them.
“For the Cobb County School District and Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, it is not enough to rob N.G. of his tenth-grade education in violation of his due process rights,” said SPLC Attorney Claire Sherburne. “The district now wants to re-litigate his case, seeking an extended punishment, as retaliation for N.G.’s successful appeal."
“For years, the district denied N.G. necessary and legally required resources and services for his learning disability, causing him to fall significantly behind in his reading and math. But now the district is willfully wasting valuable taxpayer resources during the first week of school to further harm our client who simply wants to move on with his life. It’s disgraceful, and the Cobb County community should be outraged.”
Cobb County’s desire to further punish N.G. is yet another example of how the district disregards children of color and funnels them into the school-to-prison pipeline.
In Cobb County, Black, disabled people face increased rates of policing and state violence, and this violence often begins at schools. Black students are only 33% of the student population in Cobb County, but they make up nearly 53% of those receiving disciplinary action. Students with disabilities are only about 13% of the student population, but they make up 28% of those receiving discipline. Instead of investing in Cobb County students, many students like N.G. are discarded through harsh discipline policies and practices.
“It is long overdue for Cobb County to invest its resources in creating a welcoming school environment for students of color and students with disabilities instead of pushing them out,” Sherburne said.