A hearing to decide whether a special needs student should be expelled from the Temecula Valley Unified School District for his alleged knowledge of drugs on campus is ongoing this week.
Doug Snodgrass alleges his autistic son, “who is significantly learning disabled and on a regimen of prescription medications for a number of psychiatric disorders,” was mistreated when he was arrested at school the morning of Dec. 11 and taken away for interrogation by Riverside County sheriff’s investigators.
“We knew nothing about the arrest until around 3:45 p.m., after he didn't arrive home from school. After a series of frantic phone calls to the school, I spoke to the school's principal who then informed me of the arrest, with very few details, and a recommendation to contact the sheriff's department for more details.
"During the time that had elapsed between his arrest, and our learning of the arrest, our son had been interrogated, without having been allowed to contact us. And of course, he had no attorney present,” Snodgrass writes in his online blog.
It wasn’t until three days after his son’s arrest – when the boy was scheduled to appear in court – that Snodgrass was allowed to see him, he said.
Snodgrass’s son’s arrest was part of a sting in which 22 students at two Temecula high schools were snared on Dec. 11 in connection with an undercover drug operation.
The arrests were made at the completion of a "long-term investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Investigations Bureau into allegations that juvenile students were selling illicit drugs on the campuses" of Temecula Valley and Chaparral high schools, said sheriff's Deputy Albert Martinez.
"During the course of this investigation deputies seized various illegal narcotics, including marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, heroin, LSD and illegal prescription drugs," Martinez said.
Twenty minors and two adult students were taken into custody, Martinez said.
Snodgrass contends his special needs son was used as a pawn by law enforcement during the investigation. Prior to the arrest, a “student” by the name of “Daniel” had befriended the boy and become his school buddy, which Snodgrass said was a relief because his son had few friends given he was a new kid in the district.
After the arrest, Snodgrass says he discovered Daniel was an undercover cop.
Snodgrass maintains a judge ruled his son's case will be dismissed after six months with no finding of guilt, however the school expulsion is scheduled to proceed pending the outcome of this week’s hearing at district headquarters that is slated to last through Feb. 21.
As for the arrest of Snodgrass’s son, TVUSD spokeswoman Melanie Norton released this statement Monday:
"TVUSD continues to carry out our mission to educate students in safe schools. We acted in the best interest of our students in this situation. We followed the law as well as district policy in working with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.”
There will be more on this story following the hearing this week.