McClelland files suit against KISD, seeks reentry to KHS and gridiron

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 11/20/20

Katy ISD student and former Katy Tigers quarterback Bronson McClelland has filed a lawsuit against Katy ISD, district Superintendent Ken Gregorski and Katy High School Principal Rick Hull to request …

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McClelland files suit against KISD, seeks reentry to KHS and gridiron

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Katy ISD student and former Katy Tigers quarterback Bronson McClelland has filed a lawsuit against Katy ISD, district Superintendent Ken Gregorski and Katy High School Principal Rick Hull to request being transferred from the district’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program and be allowed to rejoin extracurricular activities, according to a filing in the 400th Judicial District Court of Fort Bend County.

“Let me tell you a bit about who I am,” Bronson said at a news conference near the Katy ISD Education Support Complex the afternoon of Nov. 18. “My mind and my heart is focused on playing the game that I love and getting a good education while I’m doing it.”

According to the filing, Bronson, 19, was suspended from Katy High School after a drug-sniffing K-9 found a small amount of cannabis in his father Colburn McClelland’s car on Sept. 17, 2020, which Bronson was using to drive to school and sharing with his older brother, Walker McClelland. The suit alleges that the substance, described in police reports as a “green leafy substance” which was found in a field test to contain THC, was never tested to determine if it met the threshold of 0.3% THC content to be legally defined as marijuana under Texas law.

Police reports included in the filing also indicate that rolling papers, spent Juul brand vaping cartridges and cigarillos were found in the car. Cigarillos are often used to make a form of marijuana cigarette known as a “blunt.” Reports also indicated that the amount of suspected marijuana was “unusable.”

Walker later informed Katy ISD staff during the appeals process over Bronson’s suspension that the green leafy substance, which the McClellands say is legal hemp rather than illegal marijuana as defined by Texas law, was his, not Bronson’s.

Bronson was then transferred to DAEP and was not allowed to play football, the lawsuit says. Colburn and Bronson’s mother, Angie McClelland, then withdrew Bronson from Katy High and attempted to enroll him in a private school in California, as well as a high school in Manor, 12 miles outside of Austin.

Both transfers to other schools failed, according to statements made by Bronson’s parents on social media and at the news conference, because of paperwork issues indicating that Bronson would have been unable to play football, something important to his future as a player and student. Bronson has garnered attention from multiple colleges, including Rutgers University and the University of Tulsa.

Bronson was a prolific passer during his time with the Tigers, with a strong arm and no-nonsense attitude on the field and was voted a team captain by his teammates heading into his junior season.

A Beaumont native whose family moved to Katy because of their passion for Tigers football, Bronson was the first quarterback in the program to make the varsity roster as a freshman. 

For his career, McClelland completed 60 percent of his passes for 4,078 yards and 55 touchdowns to 13 interceptions at Katy. He also rushed for 315 yards and 11 touchdowns on 83 carries. McClelland led the Tigers to an 11-2 record and the third round of the playoffs as a sophomore in 2018. In 2019, Katy won 10 of the 11 games McClelland quarterbacked, losing to North Shore for the second straight season in the third round.

However, the McClellands alleged through a spokesman and social media that Katy ISD officials have targeted Bronson after a video surfaced on social media in October 2019 wherein Bronson, who is white, used the N-word, which reflected poorly on the district.

Spokesman Quanell X, a Black rights activist, spoke on behalf of the McClellands at the news conference and offered his support to Bronson, saying Bronson’s use of the racial slur was “dumb” and associated with Bronson’s appreciation of hip-hop music and association with Black friends who regularly use the term.

“We understand too many of our young people … believe that it’s OK to use the N-word because they’ve all grown up enjoying and listening to hip-hop and they think they can use that term in an affectionate manner toward one another,” X said.

X was joined in supporting the McClellands by several Black friends of Bronson’s, including teammates on the current Tigers football team, his former coaches and family friends.

The McClellands also allege that their involvement of private attorneys after the 2019 incident escalated the situation as the district’s administration moved to watch out for its reputation.

Colburn said the family had retained legal counsel after the October 2019 incident which had led to a two-game suspension for Bronson and loss of his captaincy.

At one point in the appeals process related to Bronson’s suspension associated with the vehicle search, the McClellands received a letter signed by Gregorski indicating that Bronson had been cleared of the allegations related to marijuana.

In the letter attached to the legal filing, Gregorski acknowledged that Bronson’s older brother had claimed responsibility for the contents of the vehicle. He additionally stated that,” the District did not test the substance to determine whether the requisite amount of THC was present that would have indicated the substance was in fact marijuana as prescribed by Texas law.”

“As such, I have determined that Bronson did not intend to possess the substance on campus,” the letter signed by Gregorski read. “Therefore, the discipline given to Bronson McClelland on September 17, 2020 is overturned and no disciplinary matters are pending.”

Police reports indicated that the matter regarding tobacco and Juul products found in the vehicle had been referred to the courts. Bronson is 19 and the legal age to own such products is 21 in Texas. Police reports also stated that Bronson was considered responsible for the items in the car due to legal chain of custody.

In response to an inquiry made by the Katy Times to Katy ISD, the district’s Manager of Media Relations Maria DiPetta provided the following statement:

“It is always Katy ISD’s goal to provide clear and accurate information about student and school concerns. It is apparent from your inquiry that there is either a misunderstanding based on inaccurate statements or misinformation given to your media outlet. In order for Katy Times to avoid publishing false information, Katy ISD would request that the McClellands’ authorize the District to provide information regarding the student’s discipline to correct the inaccurate information. Please advise the parents that a signed letter authorizing release to you would suffice.”

Katy Times staff reached out to the McClellands to request that such a letter be submitted, but the McClellands declined to submit the letter due to concerns regarding Bronson’s overall privacy.

A court date is set for Nov. 23 at 1:30 p.m. wherein Bronson and his legal counsel, the Donati Brashear Law Firm, according to documents filed with the court, will be asking for a temporary restraining order be put in place, forcing Katy ISD to allow Bronson back into regular classes at Katy High School and back into extracurricular activities, including football, until a final decision is made in the case.

Bronson is expected to graduate in December.

Dennis Silva II contributed to this report.

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