The smoke may be clearing for Gautam Setia, a former Ontario student whose prep school denied him his diploma for allegedly lighting a bong and smoking marijuana.
Ontario's Superior Court of Justice considered the former Appleby College student's case and recently ruled the school should reconsider its punishment, according to the National Post.
The matter began the night before Setia's last day at the Oakville school in June 2010, the Toronto Star reported. A residence director caught Setia and a friend in possession of a bong in the friend's dorm room, court evidence showed. The director also noted the smell of marijuana in the air, as well as a fan running, an open window, and the students' glassy eyes. The next day, they admitted to school officials they had smoked pot.
The school allowed Setia to sit for his last exam, but barred him from a graduation ceremony and withheld his diploma. Setia received his Ontario Secondary School Diploma, but not one from Appleby College, and went on to attend university. A Toronto Star source indicated he had dropped out. The family decided to fight the decision.
Appleby College punishes drug use in a variety of ways, but lighting a fire would result in expulsion, the Star said. In the court case, the school couldn't prove which student lit the bong.
A first-time conviction for marijuana possession can result in various penalties, including a $1000 fine or six months in jail, and a criminal record, according to the Canadian Bar Association. Penalties can depend on the amount. Setia was 18 when disciplined.
The court set aside the school's choice to decline Setia an Appleby College diploma. However, it would not force the school to give him the diploma either, as "it is not appropriate to do so without first affording the new Head of School an opportunity to reconsider the matter."
The court also awarded $15,000 to the family for legal costs.