An administrative law judge has ruled that Texas teacher Maryam Roland can’t be suspended after testing positive for pot.
An administrative law judge has ruled that Texas teacher Maryam Roland can’t be suspended after testing positive for pot. The woman was a teacher at Ysleta Independent School District at Parkland High School before resigning on February 20, 2015.
The complaint against the teacher’s drug use was allegedly filed by a disgruntled ex-school-district employee looking to implicate Roland and several others for supposed drug use. Just two days prior to the complaint filed against Roland, the same employee, Olaya Calanche, formerly a bookkeeping clerk for the District, sent an email to her supervisors claiming a different Parkland school teacher was a cocaine distributor and that several others were part of his distribution ring. Calanche also placed phone calls concerning these issues.
Calanche wasn’t the most reliable source, to say the least. The e-mail she sent states her own son had tried to kill her because “god told him I had demons” and maintained that one of the employees she’d mentioned in her complaint had “removed a student because she was the devil.”
The district chose to be on the safe side, however, and Roland was subjected to drug testing even though there was no evidence that she was smoking pot while performing her job. Craig Lahrman, the district’s director of secondary personnel, asked the teacher to submit samples of her breath, hair and urine for testing. Roland complied even though she’d already resigned from her position. The testing came back with traces of pot in the teacher’s system, which Roland didn’t try to explain away. Instead, she said the marijuana was consumed while on vacation in Colorado where the substance is legal. She hadn’t consumed it for a month and a half prior to the testing and never on the job.
Those who Calanche claimed were in on the”coke ring” were all tested as a result of her rants, and at least one of them scoring positive for coke. So, Calanche’s bets did pay off somewhat.
The judge’s ruling in Roland’s case cited that “aside from the e-mails [Larhman] received from Ms. Calanche, he had no reason to believe [Roland] had ever consumed an illicit drug, while on duty or elsewhere … He had no reason to think [Roland] was under the influence of alcohol or any drug when he interviewed her or at any other time while she was at school or a school-related activity.”
However, after the decision, the Board for Educator Certification wanted to suspend Roland’s teaching license for two years. Administrators thought it would be in the district’s best interest. Judge William Newchurch rejected the proposed punishment, stating “Possession of a usable quantity of marijuana is a criminal offense in Texas, but so is gambling.” He also noted he “would not recommend that the Board find a teacher unworthy to instruct in Texas because she legally gambled in Nevada.” The objection is a first in the Texas court, and was submitted during a time in which there is much debate on the legalization of cannabis. It is likely to be a benchmark for future litigation.