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Mother fighting suspension of 9-year-old son over black pepper confusion

NEW CANEY, Texas – A mother is fighting to have her 9-year-old son's suspension overturned after the school suspended him for bringing black pepper to school.

The mother of the Porter Elementary School fourth grader said her son was suspended for two days Nov. 6 because the school claims he tried to pass off the black pepper as drugs. Toni Clark denies that is the case, saying that her son, Colin, loves spicy food and brought the seasoning only to season his lunch.

Colin must also serve 15 days in alternative school and the incident will be a part of his official record.

"That's when I drew the line," said Clark. "I have to fight this because (the school) did let me know that it would follow him throughout his schooling...this drug charge."

Porter Elementary, which is part of the New Caney Independent School District, said in a statement from district spokesman Scott Powers the district cannot comment, citing student privacy guidelines.

Clark said she did not know her son had brought the pepper to school. She was told that another student reported to a teacher that Colin had drugs. The police were called out to the school and that when it was discovered that the substance Colin was carrying in four plastic sandwich bags was indeed black pepper only.

"It tested negative for marijuana, obviously, and that it was black pepper," Clark said. "This is not paraphernalia. This is seasoning. I just feel like they're going overboard."

In addition to this incident being a mark on her son's record, the single mother is also concerned that she could lose her job because the alternative school does not provide transportation and she can't leave work to pick him up from school.

Clark said she has tried to contact school board members but has not heard back from anyone. She said she is also looking into possibly moving her son out of the school district.