James Collins, 17, had just arrived with a friend at a Clear Creek High School basketball game when an administrator told them they smelled of marijuana and asked a security officer to perform a field sobriety test, Collins said.

Now, despite taking a drug test several days later that turned up negative, Collins wakes up each morning and goes to school at the district’s disciplinary alternative education program school, counting down the days until he can go back to his friends and high school, he said.

This isn’t Collins’ first run-in with school administrators at his League City high school, and family members are now starting to wonder whether this might be racially motivated, they said.

“This has stopped my education,” Collins said. “Any other student would have dropped out, probably. This feels like racial profiling, and I feel like I need to take a stand.”

Clear Creek Independent School District officials, meanwhile, declined to comment about the specifics of Collins’ case, citing federal law prohibiting them from doing so.

“All disciplinary action is taken in accordance with the student code of conduct, taking into account the evidence and circumstances of each case,” said Elaina Polsen, spokeswoman for the district.


When looked at through a broader lens, Collins’ issues aren’t unusual. Black students are three times more likely than white students to be expelled or suspended, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection.

About 3.5 million students out of 49 million total enrolled in public schools were suspended during the 2011-12 school year, according to the data.

Of about 120,800 students without disabilities given a single out-of-school suspension in 2013-14, the most recently available year, African-American students accounted for almost 30 percent of them, or 35,768, according to federal data.

“The facts are in black and white for all to see,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project, a civil rights organization. “Racism is alive and well in our American school system and school policing and zero-tolerance policies condoned by schools should be re-examined, re-evaluated and repealed.

“This data clearly shows that black students are less safe, more restrained and pushed out of school more than other students.”

A quick glance at data for Clear Creek High School’s suspension data shows a comparable number of African-American and white students were placed into the district’s disciplinary program, 28 and 24 students respectively, according to Texas Education Agency data for the 2017-18 school year.

But African-American students account for a much smaller percent of the school’s population, about 263 people out of a total student body of about 2,348, or 11.2 percent, according to state data.

Meanwhile, about 48.6 percent of the student population, or 1,140 students, is white, according to state data.

Those ethnic distribution percentages are fairly in line with the district as a whole. About 46.1 percent of the district’s 42,008 students identify as white and 8.3 percent as African-American, according to state data.

Across the district, about 92 African-American students were placed in the disciplinary school compared to 188 Hispanic students and 210 white students during the 2017-18 school year, according to the Texas Education Agency.


Although Collins’ had run-ins with administration at Clear Creek High School before, matters took a serious turn in September, his mother, NyKisha Owens, said.

Owens received a call about Collins from school officials who, she said, gave conflicting information before eventually telling her he was being suspended in reference to a sexual harassment investigation, for which he would ultimately miss seven football games and spend 13 days in disciplinary school.

But the district attorney’s office never brought any charges, Owens argued.

“Although we understand there were no charges brought forward, the CCHS administration feels that through our investigation to date, the above behavior occurred,” Principal Jamey Majewski wrote to Owens in an Oct. 22 email.

After months of appeals, however, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Karen Engle eventually overturned Collins’ suspension and promised the family that the administration would not retaliate against him, Owens said.

Then, on Jan. 18, Collins attended the basketball game with a friend, Owens said. Shortly after arriving, an administrator told the two they smelled of marijuana and had a Galveston County Sheriff’s Office deputy perform a field sobriety test, consisting of standing on one leg and watching a finger, among other things, Collins said.

The school’s administration then placed Collins back at the disciplinary school for 30 days, despite the fact that a Jan. 26 drug test came back negative on an initial screening, Owens said.

This time Engle found in the school’s favor in a Feb. 12 ruling.

But Collins and his family are continuing the fight, Owens said.

“I just want to get back to school, focus on my grades and football and graduate,” Collins said.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com


(30) comments

Carlos Ponce

Every parent or guardian should go over the Student Code of Conduct with their child at the beginning of the school year. Understand the rules, expectations and consequences of not following rules. Parents or guardians should also instill a sense of discipline among their children. This includes following the directives of teachers, administrators and staff of their school. If they have a disagreement with those directives have the parent request a conference.
And just because something is allowed at home doesn't make it right at school such as use of certain words - i.e. profanity. I remember a male student who in the middle of class decided to stand up and drop his pants. His mother did not comprehend why this was wrong. "He had boxer shorts on so what's your problem?" His mother did not like my "attitude" so she requested her son be removed from my class. No problem! I laughed when he begged to be reinstated in my class. He preferred me as his teacher to his new one.
There should be NO RACIAL QUOTAS when it comes to discipline. The Code of Conduct spells out rules, expectations and consequences. Treat each child as a student; not as Black, White, Hispanic, Asian or whatever.
Can you imagine the following scenario? "We cannot discipline student A because we've already met our quota for African-American students but student W will be disciplined for the same infraction because he's White."
James Collins may not have been smoking marijuana but absorbed that odor when in the same car or in the presence of marijuana smokers. His mother should check out who he's hanging with. Wonder if the other young man tested positive.

Carol Dean

Agreed, Carlos!

Paul Steele

I can feel the love on most of the responses in this article.

George Croix

Big surprise.
About 90% of the 'reports' in this paper are predictable......

Lyra Mitchell

Unfortunately, the school’s position cannot be adequately shared due to privacy laws. Too often, articles with grievances against schools only discuss one biased side. The articles typically rely on their words without any verification from their peers.

I can’t say who is right when it comes to this case because we don’t have enough information. I do agree with Carlos, putting discipline quotas based on race is ridiculous . The kids aren’t stupid, they can see when their is no accountability.

Lisa Gray

Carlos, you are spot on. Always the race card when a student of color is disciplined. Where are the parents when these kids are supposed to be learning right from wrong? Kids of all color need firm discipline and rules from toddler age. Sorry, but this attempt at journalism is extremely one sided. Try again GDN. Your agenda is showing.

Gary Sattell

Seriously ? "Always the race card when a student of color is disciplined." Try again Lisa Gray. Your agenda is showing.

Nykisha Owens

Lisa, just to clarify my husband and myself are very much involved in our children's life. We have always taught our children to respect all authority figures, and in return we expect them to be given the same respect!!

Vanessa McAfee

Of the 2,348 students at CCISD, 1104 students are white and 236 are black.

28 out of 1104 placed in in-school suspense

24 out of 236 placed on in-school suspense

If you do not see this as alarming, then that is part of the problem. Here is another of many examples of the inherent bias at CCISD.

CCISD is the same school district that sent my black niece to the office because her white class mate tried to cheat off of her paper. The white student didn’t not get an office referral. Just one of many examples.

Please don’t try to whitewash this issue, it is a serious widespread issue through CCISD and needs to be corrected.

This is the same school district that has to do be forced to respond to white student posting black face in snap chat. When initially reported the office simply tried to not acknowledge the compliant. Then when they did “acknowledge it” they tried to whitewash the incident by saying they believed her that she was simply snap chatting a picture of herself with a face mask on

Vanessa McAfee

Carlos, interesting you mention the code of conduct. My sister in law who is black walked into a school within the CCISD district and ask for a copy of the handbook, they would not give her a copy and advised her to go online or to the admin building for a copy. I am white, I walked into the same school on the same day and I ask for a copy of the handbook, I was given a hard copy from a stack of about ten.

George Croix

Ms. McAfee, you could be on to something there.
If you asked the very same person for a copy of the handbook that your SIS asked, and that person was able to get a copy from the same stack of them that was available to him/her at both times, a stack that had not been resupplied in the time interval between the earliest request to yours and which would have not been subject to possible lack of knowledge of existence or lack of initiative by different employees, and both requests were made politely and with no reason for the ISD employee to treat them any differently than any other request by anybody else, then all conditions being the same for both times, one could reasonably suspect an ulterior motive on the part of that particular ISD employee....imo......
If all of the circumstances and conditions were the same, your complaint should be followed up on.......

George Croix


SIL....(sister in law)

NOT close enough....

Rusty Schroeder

Did "the friend" get 30 days also ? Did he too submit to a drug test ? Where and by whom was the drug test administered ? What was the nanogram limit of the drug test and was their an appointment and time given for test ? I've seen addicts pass drug tests when knowing they are going to be given one. I also know the company you keep has consequences, as I predict happened here.

Nykisha Owens

Rusty yes two out of the three young men got 30 days of DAEP.

Rusty Schroeder

Did the others also take a drug test that came up negative? If that answer is yes, then you should pursue this legally.

Rusty Schroeder

there not "their" . Jan 18th they were approached and questioned about smelling like weed. Jan 26th, "several days later", a drug test was taken that turned up negative in an initial screening. LOL, 8 days to prepare for a drug test, that right there makes the argument of a negative drug test result an excuse more than a fact. Drug test should have been given the next morning when he arrived at school by the schools physician or an outside provider at the school. I am sure CCISD has a drug testing company that they use for employees, they would have had a rep. there at 8 am to give the test. I would like answers to my above questions, that would clear up a lot of things with this story and young man's claims.

Nykisha Owens

Just to clear things up Rusty since you seem to know so much.... This happened on a Friday night in which MY SON did ask them to give him a drug screening. My husband and I did a home drug screen testing that very next morning on Saturday, and it came back negative. Which was good enough for us, but when we seen how serious the situation was getting is when we decided to get it officially on paper!! The following Monday was MLK day; and no CCISD does not have a drug testing company or an outside provider. I wish they did and I could have saved my money.

Rusty Schroeder

Nykisha I know how drug testing works, any 24 hour emergency clinic can perform one, on Saturday or the Monday of MLK day. Good for you and your husband acting on it quickly, but by the accounts of this story your son was told Tuesday he was on 30 day probation of sorts. Should have taken him Tuesday and had him tested then found an attorney to represent him. Yes I know it costs money, but it seems you want your son cleared of this charge so that would be the course of action. Sue the school for your costs, time, and embarrassment this situation has caused your son and family. Good luck to your son in his classwork and football season next year.

Carlos Ponce

My uncle, Jesse Ponce (now deceased) was at one time President of the Texas City LULAC chapter. He was frequently called by "Latino" parents to handle disputes with TCISD. After hearing their story he would then ask for a meeting with TCISD administrators and teachers. Each time he determined that hearing just one side of the story was exactly that - one sided. The school district had substantial documentation on each incident that the student and his parents could not refute. After a few incidents he was reluctant to take on any incident seeing that the student in question always left out key information. Every school district asks its principals, teachers, staff to document, document, document.
I seriously doubt that a district would place any student in DAEP without proper documentation. There's a lot of holes in this news article. Not the newspaper reporter's fault since the law does not allow such disclosure. Take what is reported with a grain of salt. If the parent really believes it was racist she can file a lawsuit.

Emile Pope

That’s the test for DUI...

David Smith

Nowhere in the article did he declare his innocence

George Croix

Does anyone else feel like we are missing some crucial information.....from both sides.....??
Maybe it's just me....

Carlos Ponce

Interesting interview:
The young man only claims he was not in possession when searched. Hmmm...
Mom's reason for seeking legal action against the school district?
"I'm very concerned as to why they didn't call his parent that night that when it happened. I wasn't called until like 9:30 that night and that's when the principal told me what happened and I was like 'Let me give you a call right back, I just finished talking to my son' and he told me ''Well, I'm off duty, we'll call you on Monday'.
Roland Martin then turns to Robert who says, "Maybe he smoked it all. I don't know. No, but honestly..."
Roland Martin:" That was a joke."
"Yes it was."
"All right, cause you're fixing to get cussed out on social media."

Jim Forsythe

"The young man only claims he was not in possession when searched." The drug test did the talking about if he had used.
If he had used, saying that he had not, would not have changed the facts. Just as not saying he had not used, did not change the facts. Lack of commit, does not equal guilt!

Testing came back negative and since testing was done within a few days, it would have tested positive, if he had used.
The Jan. 26 drug test came back negative on an initial screening! "If you are a chronic marijuana user, THC can be detected in your system using a urine test for up to 12 weeks depending on the quantity as well as frequency of use. For a light user with average measurements, the general rule of two weeks to 30 days may be used." Marijuana stays detectable in the human body far longer than the chemicals found in other drugs. Was the reason for the disciplinary action the smell of marijuana, or some other reason?

Carlos Ponce

You are giving too much credence to half a story, Jim. And that "half" is riddled with holes. If "Mom" sues it will be interesting to see what evidence is disclosed. Did you see and hear the Youtube interview with her? Her only concern in a lawsuit in that interview was about not being notified. Interesting....

Carlos Ponce

'Testing came back negative and since testing was done within a few days, it would have tested positive, if he had used." Jim posted.
"Typically speaking, psychoactive THC cannabinoids can be found in the system for 1-2 days after consumption for very infrequent users, while those who consume everyday can expect it to remain in your body for longer."
If undergoing a drug test there are three options:
1. Detox, naturally. takes 4 - 6 weeks
2. Detox in 3-6 days, with detoxification products.
3. Detox in 24 hours, with same day cleansers. If you're truly panicking a day or two before your test, it might be worth your while to try a same day cleanser from a company like TestClear.com (available online). Such products temporarily target the urinary tract to flush metabolites to give you a brief period for which to give a clean urine sample, meaning you could technically pass a drug test in 24 hours.

Jim Forsythe

Carlos, how many drug test have you had? I have done it over 20 times, because of my job.

Carlos, any methods someone uses to try and hide it, can be detected. I have know a person that tried the diluted method, and they tested positive for 4 months. It also depends on what amount that is counted as a positive test for a person.
Sometimes the threshold is 50 ng/mL and sometimes its zero for a positive. If you have a high BMI, you may test positive for a longer time, if it is in your system..
" Drug testing labs are on the lookout for diluted urine samples. So in order to be an effective technique, you need not only dilute your urine, but to mask the fact that your urine is diluted. " Also, it requires that a person is not watching you fill the cup. Detoxification products are mainly a way for companies to make money

Unless you know that this young man tried to use this method, you should not try and make it look like he did. Do you have any reason to believe that it happened? If not, please do not accuse him of this. As he passed the test, he is considered to be in compliance.

Another method used by some is using throw down urine, which requires you to keep it at body temperature and hidden. A market for clean urine existed, which was use by some in the past, but I do not know about now. People paid money for clean urine.
If the hair method is used, it is next to impossible to hide use.

As far as the clip of Roland, Robert and a lady. Robert made the other two look like they had no idea on what was going on. I think that it was edited to make it look that way. Robert was for Robert, because it was his show..

Carlos Ponce

I'm not accusing anyone of anything, Jim. I'm just pointing out there are ways around the system. This can be avoided using random sampling which is the norm among companies and schools. The methods you describe require advanced notice and preparation. With a week's interlude ......

Jim Forsythe

The ones that had the payed for urine, had it on hand. It also can be precured very quickly from a co-worker. Some test were with yearly medical checks and some random .
The diluted method, the one you talked about, takes just a trip to the drug store, and can be on hand if a person thinks it will help them. The people I know that used this, still tested positive.
If the hair method is used, it is next to impossible to hide use of drugs. They will take if off your head or other parts of your body. If you have no hair, they will find it somewhere. Shaving off all your hair before this test is a bad idea.
If a person has hypotrichoses or alopecia, then this method is not used.

Carlos Ponce

"The diluted method, the one you talked about....."
I did not mention that method. You did.

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