In March of 2013, Clovis North High School employee Kelly Racca reportedly asked two students to participate in a drug sting to stop the illegal sale of marijuana on campus. After the plan went awry, both students insist they were unlawfully interrogated by police and threatened with arrest.
Racca is said to have enlisted the two students' help without the consent of their parents or the police. Furthermore, Racca reportedly failed to tell either student that the plan was illegal; the students assumed Racca was authorized to conduct her plan.
On March 11, 2014, the two students filed a lawsuit against the Clovis Unified School District. In the civil complaint, the students were identified under the names of John Doe and Mary Roe.
The students are seeking unspecified monetary damages on the grounds of negligent supervision, false arrest, humiliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
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In the lawsuit, Racca, 36, was listed as a Clovis North counselor; at the time of the alleged incident, however, she was a campus safety monitor. Racca apparently never notified police of her plan, and had neither the authority nor the law enforcement background to conduct a drug investigation.
Racca allegedly gave money to Mary and recorded the bills’ serial numbers to link them to the drug seller. Mary’s friend John agreed to help her if, supposedly, Racca would in return help them get an expelled student reinstated into school. Racca reportedly agreed.
John then used the money to buy marijuana from a student on campus; Mary photographed the transaction. The students later turned over the marijuana and the photograph to Racca.
The following day, Mary was called out of class and interrogated by Clovis police officers. After writing her account of the drug buy and waiting in Student Services for hours, she was allowed to leave without being arrested.
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According to the Fresno Bee, neither the school nor the police notified the students' parents. School officials and police reportedly failed to advise Mary of her right to a lawyer, as well as of her right to refuse to answer potentially incriminating questions.
School officials and police officers called John into a conference room, advised him of his Miranda rights, and proceeded to question him. His pleas to contact his father were apparently ignored, and he was not allowed to leave the conference room.
Days later, Mary was again called out of class, this time to write an incident report about the drug purchase. The lawsuit states that Racca pleaded with Mary to retract her statements about Racca “orchestrating the sting operation.”
Student Services counselor Wesley Flowers also allegedly encouraged Mary to lie about the event so that “Racca would not be subject to criticism by her superiors.”
Fresno attorney Stephen R. Cornwell, who represents both students, has referred to Racca’s requests as “outrageous.”
The lawsuit claims that Racca failed to consider that the plan would “potentially expose Mary and John as witnesses … and subject them to ridicule and harassment by other students and potential physical harm by drug-related gang groups.”
Mary and John currently remain students at Clovis North. However, because some students speculate that they are snitches, John and Mary have expressed fear for their safety. Racca now works part-time “in a sub capacity” for the school district.
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