Ore. student says he was pressured into false confession about smoking pot, has drug test to prove it
SALEM, Ore. - A South Salem High School student says school administrators and a school police officer pressured him into a false confession about smoking marijuana before prom.
"I felt like I was bombarded, I was harassed," said Raul Villarreal. "I thought if I just say I smoked, maybe for a second I thought I could go back in."
Instead, administrators told him to leave prom, suspended him from school for a week and told him he can't walk across the stage at the graduation ceremony on Friday.
"I'm devastated," Villarreal said. "Those are memories I won't be able to get back and I don't want to lose those memories."
In response, he says he went in for a urinary drug test four days later and had the results sent straight to the school.
"I knew for a fact I would come out clean," he said.
The drug test paperwork Villarreal showed KATU News has negative results for several drugs, including marijuana.
The results didn't change his consequences.
In a letter Villarreal showed he got from school administrators, it says Villarreal "displayed symptoms consistent with recent marijuana use" and that he admitted to it and smelled like the drug. The letter also pointed to the Behavior Expectations mailed earlier in the year. Those expectations state that students who show up to activities under the influence will be "criminally charged and subject to the district discipline policy."
Villarreal said he was shocked to learn the drug test didn't clear his name.
"I definitely thought this is a guaranteed, you know I can walk, but I guess not," he said.
Now he's thankful for the support from his peers. One friend started a petition and has hundreds of signatures. The friend plans to give it to school administrators Monday. Others are using the Twitter hash tag, "#FreeRaul" to show support.
"The authority at South [Salem High School] isn't there for me, but my friends are and my peers are," Villarreal said. "They see the truth better than anyone else can and they know me."
Raul is not facing any criminal charges. He wasn't arrested and there is not a police report. A Salem Police spokesman said this would be only a school matter since it's not illegal to be under the influence as long as the person is not driving.
A school district spokesman said he had not heard of this situation but would pass on the request for comment to the South Salem High School principal. This story will be updated with the school's response if it is received.