This veteran teacher in Florida may lose his job after he was found to be using medical marijuana for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD].
Michael Hickman is highly regarded at his place of work and was also promoted recently as the Dean at Belleview High School.
He previously served as a marine combat veteran and was a part of the operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield carried out by the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1990s. Hickman was prescribed medical marijuana for his PTSD condition by a licensed physician. This did not go well with the school board when they found that he tested positive for marijuana.
The entire matter came to light when Hickman injured his shoulder at Belleview High School while trying to break a student fight on November 5. He then went to the district’s worker compensation doctor for his treatment.
The doctor informed the school officials that Hickman was tested positive for cannabinoids. This, in a way, violates the zero-tolerance drugs and alcohol-free workplace policy set by the school board.
Hickman was devastated upon learning that Heidi Maier, the superintendent of schools recommended his firing.
He would obviously feel dejected after spending $10,000 for obtaining his master’s degree. He was keen on entering the hiring pool with aspirations of becoming a principal someday and he really worked hard for it.
When the school officials were contacted, they brushed the matter aside by stating that medical marijuana is legal as per the state law and not as per the federal law.
What is interesting to be noted is that the Marion County School System receives millions of dollars in grants from the federal government. Hickman has been suspended currently and the sad part is that he would not be given any pay during his suspension period.
One parent stated that, “I may not be in favor of the marijuana issue, but if it helps him, if he’s a good teacher and he’s doing a good job I’m all in favor.”
Mark Herdman, Hickman’s attorney has written a letter to the school officials. He has stated clearly that Hickman seeks a hearing in order to protect the treatment that he received from the school officials.
An administrative law judge is likely to look over the matter. Herdman has further mentioned that the use of legally prescribed medical cannabis has no effect on Hickman’s ability to perform his responsibilities and job duties.
His actions also do not constitute any misconduct in the office. Hickman has been informed that the proceedings may take longer than eight months.
Disappointed over the happenings, Hickman said, “I have no job. I can no longer work in the School District.”
The use of medical marijuana has become a controversial matter for several states like Florida.
As the federal government still considers the use of marijuana illegal even if it is for medical purposes, several government agencies are under the fear that they may lose funding if they do not maintain zero-tolerance drug-free policies at the workplace.
Although it is legal to use medical cannabis in Florida, the state law permits companies to follow drug-free workplace policies.
The President of Local Teacher’s Union, Mark Avery expressed his views on the firing of Hickman.
He mentioned that Hickman was fired for doing something that has been legalized by the Florida government. He also added that Hickman used medical cannabis at home and not at the workplace.
“I understand that there is federal funding that could be taken, but we do not have any precedent that such funding has ever been taken. That’s the excuse the School Board uses, and the district uses,” he further added.
The aspiring assistant principal is currently waging a battle 30 years after he served as marine combat to protect his livelihood and name.
Hickman has requested a hearing in order to appeal his case. He has currently been placed on unpaid leave. The case hearing is still pending and we may soon get to know what lies in the future ahead for the ambitious teacher.