Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jan 2013
Source: Helena Independent Record (MT)
Copyright: 2013 Helena Independent Record
Author: Piper Hauga


BUTTE -- The county superintendent of schools heard testimony Friday 
in the case of a former Butte High student facing felony drug charges 
who has appealed his expulsion.

Kaedon Caprara, who according to court documents distributed 
marijuana stolen from a local marijuana dispensary to Butte High 
students, was treated differently than other students who have broken 
the district's drug policy, and therefore was wrongfully expelled, 
his lawyer Shawn Johnson argued before county superintendent of 
schools Cathy Maloney on Friday.

Johnson said records show 47 drug policy violations in the past five 
years in the district, but none of those students was expelled.

The district's lawyer Pat Fleming argued that Caprara acknowledged 
he'd broken school policy and the law when a search of his car 
revealed marijuana and paraphernalia within sight of the school, and 
that was grounds enough for expulsion.

The expulsion appeal hearing had school administrators, lawyers and 
supporters of Caprara in the courthouse's council chambers for the 
better part of Friday.

Trustees were called to testify, as well as Butte High Principal John 
Metz, dean of boys Dave Johnson, and athletic director Chuck Merrifield.

Metz, the first person called to testify, said he was present with 
the school's student resource officer when he looked in Caprara's car 
after obtaining permission from the student's parents. He said the 
large jar containing marijuana the student resource officer uncovered 
was the largest amount of marijuana he'd seen in all his 23 years of education.

"I've never witnessed anything like it," Metz said.

Caprara and his cousin Tyce Doherty, a Butte Central student, were 
arrested in September after school administration received a tip that 
a student was selling marijuana to football players. Documents filed 
in district court in September allege the two broke into a medical 
marijuana store in August.

Caprara and Doherty are charged with five felonies each: burglary, 
two counts of possession of dangerous drugs, distribution of 
dangerous drugs and possession of property subject to criminal 
forfeiture. Because the case is in youth court, information on its 
status wasn'tavailable.

Caprara's expulsion was only due to the fact that he had illicit 
substances within line of sight of the school, and had broken school 
policy concerning drugs.

In October, the school board voted 6-0 to expel Caprara from Butte 
High, offering academic services so he could still graduate through 
the district. Friday's appeal was in response to that.

Maloney said there is no record that the Butte-Silver Bow County 
superintendent of schools has ever held a hearing like this before.

"It's kind of an unprecedented thing in the county," Maloney said.

Maloney made no decision on Friday. She can either stay the 
expulsion, which occurred Oct. 4, or allow him to return to school. 
Caprara was a senior at the time of his expulsion.
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