Administrative Law Judge James Timberland noted that the district had no policies applying to off-duty conduct, and that the educator’s actions did not involve the school, students or staff.
By Clark Kauffman, Iowa Capital Dispatch
An Iowa educator who was fired after police found three pounds of marijuana at her home is entitled to jobless benefits, a judge has ruled.
According to state records, Amy Garrison-Perkins was employed by the Waterloo Community School District as a behavior interventionist at Expo Alternative High School earlier this year.
In September, police went to the school and served a search warrant on Garrison-Perkins in connection with a search of her home. Garrison-Perkins allegedly informed the district’s chief human resources officer that she had a medical-marijuana card, officially known as a Medical Cannabidiol Registration Card, and that because it was too expensive to legally purchase the product from vendors, she was growing marijuana at home.
Garrison-Perkins allegedly told district officials she was authorized to have four grams of medical marijuana in connection with her medical prescription, but that law enforcement had removed three pounds of marijuana from her home.
Under the terms in which Iowa’s Medical Cannabidiol Registration Cards are provided, Garrison-Perkins was prohibited from possessing cannabidiol in any form that could be smoked or eaten.
Several weeks after the search took place, Black Hawk County prosecutors charged Garrison-Perkins in October with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. Court records indicate police executed the search warrant at her home after spotting five marijuana plants that were plainly visible in her backyard. A jury trial is scheduled for January.
The district fired Garrison-Perkins, and she subsequently applied for unemployment benefits. After a hearing dealing with that application, Administrative Law Judge James Timberland noted that the district had no policies applying to off-duty conduct, and that Garrison-Perkins’ actions did not involve the school, students or staff.
Timberland awarded Perkins unemployment benefits, adding that the decision “in no manner condones the claimant’s off-duty misconduct.”
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.