Ed Blackwood

Lawsuit: Clayton Schools breaking law by withholding drug test results

A lawsuit was filed in Clayton County Superior Court on behalf of a longtime Clayton County Public Schools educator who alleges school district officials are trying to terminate him over a false-positive drug test.

The attorney for Ed Blackwood said district officials will not allow them access to drug test results that could end his 30-plus year career.

Blackwood said he was injured trying to break up a fight at M.D. Roberts Middle School, where he is an assistant principal, in March. He was sent to an urgent care facility for treatment of an injured ankle. As is protocol, he was drug tested. He was later informed he tested positive for THC, found in marijuana. 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.

District officials declined to comment on the matter, calling the situation a personnel matter.

Thursday, during a break on the third day of his fair-dismissal hearing, Blackwood and several supporters spoke about what they say is the unfair process he is being put through.

“I’ve been unable to obtain … all of the (drug test) results, and the specific results and the levels which I tested,” he said. “The doctor from there said I tested at a very low level, she also confirmed you can get a false positive from the oil depending on how your body metabolizes it.”

His attorney, Julie Oinonen, said she filed the lawsuit seeking an emergency hearing because the district is being unfair during its hearing.

“Clayton County Schools is violating the constitutional civil rights of my client by depriving him lawfully subpoenaed drug screening results,” she said. They claim he is being terminated as a result of failing a drug test. This is wrong. They cannot do this to educators in Clayton County.”

Pat Sebo-Hand, a Jonesboro City Councilwoman and former Clayton County Public Schools employee, said not allowing Blackwood access to his test results denies him the chance to properly represent himself.

“It’s very unfortunate that someone with the tenure Mr. Blackwood has of 30-plus years the district … is now finding himself in a situation whereby he is being blatantly discriminated against in regards to his constitutional rights to defend himself,” she said. “We’re here to make certain his constitutional rights are given to him.”

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