Clayton school board votes not to fire principal, out since positive drug test

The Clayton County Board of Education voted to allow a longtime educator to return to his job after he was suspended for a positive drug test in the spring, an attorney for the educator said.

Ed Blackwood was placed on leave without pay last spring after testing positive for THC, found in marijuana, during a drug test. The drug test was protocol after Blackwood was sent to an urgent care facility to treat an injured ankle, suffered in March while trying to break up a fight at M.D. Roberts Middle School, where he is an assistant principal.

District officials did not respond to questions on the case, including whether the tribunal recommended termination or when Blackwood will be allowed to return to work. Officials instead told a reporter to request the information through a Georgia Open Records Act request. Those can take up to three days, and include a fee, to receive a response.

Blackwood’s attorney, Julie Oinonen, said a district-appointed tribunal  recommended last week that Blackwood be terminated, and that the school board voted unanimously on Monday to let Blackwood keep his job.

“We are grateful to the Clayton County Board of Education for their tremendous leadership in rejecting the superintendent’s (Morcease Beasley) recommendation to terminate an educator who’s served 30-plus years ... for lawful use of CBD oil to treat a disease,” she said.

Blackwood said the doctor who treated him said he could receive a false-positive result because he takes CBD oil to treat polymyocitis, an autoimmune illness. Because of the positive test result, he said district officials placed him on administrative leave on March 28 pending an investigation.

“It’s been a difficult time,” Blackwood said Tuesday afternoon,  at  the office of his attorney, Julie Oinonen. “It’s put stress on my family and friends who care about me.”

He said he continued his court case because CBD oil has become more commonly used to treat ailments, and he does not want to see others endure what he has.

“This is precedent setting in the use of CBD oil,” he said. “So much research has gone into this. It is an alternative to opioids, which I refuse to take. Hopefully, it paves the way for something better.”

Blackwood said he looks forward to returning to work, and receiving the back pay from the time since he’s been suspended.