A Trophy Club high school suspended a grieving 16-year-old boy for smoking marijuana because he had “bloodshot eyes” -- two days after his father died.
Kyler Robertson, a junior at Byron Nelson High School, was suspended for three days and transferred to an alternative school until January.
His father, Richard Robertson of Fort Worth, was stabbed to death near Azle on Sunday after getting into an argument with another man, police said. Kyler lives with his mother, Cristy Fritz, who has not been together with Robertson for a number of years.
On Tuesday, Kyler’s mother said her son was still grieving but longed for a sense of normalcy and wanted to be around friends.
"He insisted on going to school and said he just wanted everything to be, you know, normal," Fritz said.
She said she supported his decision.
He showed up to school a little late and went to the office because he was tardy, where he was quickly accused of smoking marijuana, she said.
An assistant principal then called her.
"I think I dropped to my knees at that moment,” Fritz said.
Byron Nelson High School is part of the Northwest School District.
Lesley Weaver, a district spokeswoman, said she could not discuss Robertson’s case because of privacy laws. In general, she said, students are not suspended without “multiple indicators” of drug use.
His mother showed NBCDFW the district’s paperwork detailing the case against him.
An office worker claimed to smell marijuana on him, the documents said. The school nurse reported his eyes were bloodshot, he appeared "jittery," and his blood pressure was elevated. The nurse also noted that his behavior and mental state were “normal.”
The district did not find any marijuana, and nobody claimed to see him smoking.
His mother said the district’s “evidence” proved nothing. Her son suffers from allergies and was still emotional from his father’s death, she said.
"I said, 'This is all you're giving me?'” Fritz said. “In the blink of an eye, my son's whole high school career was going down the tubes. And he's dealing not just with a loss but a horrific event."
She said administrators ignored her repeated pleas to reconsider the suspension and that they were mistaking his grief for drug use.
His mother described her son as an A and B student. He plays on the junior varsity golf team.
After the assistant principal called her, Fritz said she picked her son up and took him straight to his doctor, who gave him a urine test.
A lab report showed he was clean -- not just for marijuana, but for a number of drugs.
"I know my son, and I know he's not using drugs, and I told them that,” Fritz said.
When she returned to school with the proof, she said administrators agreed to shorten the suspension and withdraw the transfer but did not apologize.
"No condolences, no sympathies, no apologies for the lack of compassion, the way they mishandled him, the false allegations, nothing,” she said.
Byron Nelson Principal Linda Parker apologized to Fritz in an e-mailed letter Friday. Parker said the district has agreed to mark the two days of school Kyler missed because of his suspension as excused absences "in an effort to worth with" Fritz. The absences will not be noted as days of suspension, the principal said.
The letter also said the district has agreed to remove references to the incident from Kyler's file.
"Finally, the district sincerely apologizes for this situation and is hopeful that we can move forward together in the best interests of Kyler," Parker wrote. "The district appreciates your input and commends you for your commitment to Kyler's education."
Fritz, noting that the letter misspelled her first name, said in an e-mail that the school still has not accepted responsibility for being wrong.
"This letter is the cold hard proof that they don’t care about my son, what they have done to his character, reputation and what turmoil it has caused our family," she said in an e-mail. "They made a mistake, they mishandled the situation, they were wrong."