Clayton County Win!

“I BELIEVE in GAE and its efforts to protect and support its members.” That’s what Mr. William Blackwood said recently after he found himself in a situation he never dreamed could happen to him. Mr. William Blackwood, a distinguished educator, Principal and Assistant Principal for nearly three decades with Clayton County Schools was injured after breaking up a violent fight among students. According to school district policy, Mr. Blackwood reported to the school district’s worker’s compensation medical provider for a drug screen. The drug screen came back positive for marijuana use, and the school district recommended termination. However, Mr. Blackwood never smokes marijuana. In order to treat a painful auto-immune disorder and avoid addictive narcotics, Mr. Blackwood used Cannabidiol (CBD) oil which contains less than .3 percent of THC made from hemp and not marijuana. CBD oil is fully legal and does not cause a user to become “high,” impaired, or suffer drug impaired effects. In other words, the drug screen was a false positive. GAE legal services stepped in and retained expert witnesses, physicians and toxicologists ready to attest to a reasonable degree of scientific and medical certainty that this test result was solely due to a legal use of CBD oil. After a contentious and unprecedented five-day termination hearing, the three-person tribunal (hand-picked by Clayton County Schools) issued a cookie-cutter decision recommending Mr. Blackwood’s termination. To its everlasting credit, the Clayton County Board of Education overruled the tribunal and the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate William Blackwood. Mr. Blackwood has been returned to work with full backpay!  

“My wife, Kim (also a GAE member), and I will forever be grateful to GAE for the undaunting support of your organization and for the attorney that was provided. We could not have accomplished our goal of total victory without the resources provided by GAE. The Clayton County School Board was gracious in their unanimous decision to reinstate me.“  

This case demonstrates once again that NEA/GAE legal services provides superior value. The attorney fees and expert witness fees would have easily exceeded other organization’s pre-determined cap of $10,000. In those situations, members of other organizations are left to fend for themselves. NEA/GAE legal defense provides coverage win or lose.