“He was given the opportunity to stop using it,” Levitt said.
Hickman’s attorney, Mark Herdman, told the Ocala Star-Banner, “It is just another unfortunate decision handed down by the Marion County School Board to fire yet another good employee.” Hickman argued it was unfair that he legally could have kept using the opioid painkiller he took before switching to marijuana because it was more effective and has fewer side effects.
Chris Altobello, an executive director with the Marion County teachers union, told the paper in a text message that Hickman “was no more impaired than someone who took an aspirin for a headache. They implied that this is tantamount to smoking pot in the boys bathroom!”
The district learned of Hickman’s use one year ago when he was injured breaking up a fight at Belleview High School. A workers' compensation doctor who treated Hickman discovered the drug in a urine test and notified the district.
“Imagine if this employee just sat back and let the two students continue to fight without regard for their safety. We wouldn’t be here right now,” Altobello said.